Beech bark disease is a huge threat to the American Beech and is widespread in the northeastern part of the United States. It is created by two invasive species: a fungus and the beech scale insect. In 1890, beech scale was first brought to Nova Scotia.
Later, it spread throughout much of the U.S. causing beech bark disease to extend in much of these areas. The disease happens when the bark of a tree is first attacked by the beech scale insect and is then eventually destroyed by the fungus.
Beech Bark Disease Stages
Beech bark infestation can take up to six years to progress after beech scale attacks the forest. The disease progresses in three stages: the aftermath zone, the advancing front, and the killing front. In the advancing front, the tree gets infested by the beech scale insect. In this stage, the beech scale destroys the tree's bark.
The stage afterwards is known as the killing front, which happens when a fungus contaminates trees within the damaged bark created by the scale insect. This usually happens some time while after the insects enter the woods. Lastly, the aftermath zone happens when trees die. Big trees may stay in the forest if they are resistant to the beech scale and the fungus.
There are many obvious indicators that the beech disease is in the forest. White blotches covering a tree's trunk might denote the infestation of the beech scale insect. After beech scale gets established, beech bark disease is almost unavoidable.
Later indicators of an infection include brown and red spots on the bark of a tree. During the aftermath zone, trees might be broken by harsh winds. This is referred to as beech snap. Call an arborist with Harrisburg Tree Service if you believe your tree is infested. You may need to consider tree removal from your landscaping.
Impacts on the Ecosystem
The ecosystems of forests are highly impacted by this disease. Horde of animals and birds depend on the American Beech species for habitat and food. Chipmunks, turkeys, black bears, grey squirrels, and deer are just a couple of examples of animals that feed on beech nuts. In addition, numerous species of raptors and hawks nest in beech trees.
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