Northwoods white birch face disease, insect problemsSubmitted: 04/08/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer

NORTHWOODS - White birch trees help define our Northwoods forests.

But these trees can be threatened by many different pests.

White birch is a pioneer species, meaning it grows well in landscapes that have been hit by fire or otherwise cleared.

Right now, as a whole, the Northwoods white birch population is getting older quickly.

"As those trees age, their systems are not as durable as when they're nice, healthy, younger, vigorous trees," says DNR Forester John Gillen.

Diseases in white birch are often due to more than one factor.

Many trees have become dehydrated or defoliated, especially in the drought of the last decade.

"Then, a big influx of insects may attack the trees because they're under stress. That, often times, is what ends up killing individual trees or a stand of white birch," Gillen says.

Insects like the bronze birch borer, birch leafminer, and forest tent caterpillar can be common in the Northwoods.

That goes for white birch both in the forest and in your yard.

"A good thing to keep an eye out for in all tree species is pay attention to what's happening with the crown of the tree - if there's any defoliation happening, or if the coloration of the leaves is changing," says Gillen.

The best way to keep your white birch healthy is to make sure it's always well watered.

That makes it strong enough to fight off insects and diseases.

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