- Our Northwoods' forests are under constant barrage from pests and diseases, season to season, according to Brian Schwingle, a specialist on forest insects and diseases with the DNR in Rhinelander. "There are literally hundreds of diseases. Every tree specie could have ten, twenty, common diseases that it would show."
He remembers the last time our trees went through a lot of stress. It all started with forest tent caterpillars. "It's the critter that has cyclical population outbreaks. So once every ten years it has a massive outbreak. The last one in the Rhinelander area went from 1999 to 2002."
After that outbreak many trees lost their foliage and what came next didn't help says Schwingle. "After that defoliation there were several years of drought and we lost a large percentage of our aspen trees, a significant portion of our aspen trees during that defoliation. Not to mention the nuisance it causes on everyone's houses. All of the Northwoods is due about now for a forest tent caterpillar outbreak. But I do a few population prediction surveys in the winter time and I don't anticipate any."
At least not this year. The same goes for Oak Wilt here in the Northwoods.
It attacks the tree causing it to lose it's leaves and die very quickly, in a matter of months. "Oak Wilt isn't in abundance here. We only knew of one oak in northeastern Oneida County."
Shwingle doesn't think that Oak Wilt will be much of a factor here in the Northwoods this year. But other counties are preparing for a different factor, one that buries itself in the bark of our ash trees. "The state does it's best, in terms of trying to find it, with these big purple kites, purple panel traps they're called. This year they are going to be placed all over the northern third of Wisconsin and we'll see if we find the Emerald Ash Bore or not."
The state is hanging over 21-hundred of these big purple survey traps, even in the Merrill area.
Estimates say an outbreak here could cost over 200-thousand dollars over a period of two years.
Schwingle says an easy method of prevention is to not transport chopped wood, or in other words to burn it where you buy it.
Story By: Ryan Michaels