what's eating the oaks in VA and S. MD?

hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)June 15, 2014

Drove from Raleigh, NC to Columbia MD today. From around Petersburg, VA, up I-95 and US-301 into MD, I noticed that a lot of oak trees seemed to be partially defoliated - the leaves I could make out while driving were partially eaten - definitely "eaten" - not something like anthracnose - and some were already sprouting a new flush of leaves that appeared unaffected.

This was not full defoliation, nothing like the mid to late 90s Gypsy Moth outbreaks in OH and PA that I remember...maybe 30 - 60% defoliation or so, and not all oaks in an area were affected. Seemed worse in rural areas but I did see some in more developed areas as well.

It appears almost all the trees affected were oaks, reds moreso than whites, and the only other genus affected was Acer - a few A. rubrums had a similar thing going on but it may or may not have been the same insect.

Driving north, I started seeing it around Petersburg and Richmond, VA. It seems that the damage dropped off in Prince Georges County, MD.

It seems too early for Gypsy Moths, too late for Tent Caterpillars or Oak Leafroller...anyone noticed this? Any ideas?

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I had army worms in my oaks and apple trees til I got out the Sevin.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 11:02PM
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jdo053103(7b - NC)

Leaves on my northern red and shumard got partially eaten by something this spring. What's odd is my pin oaks have zero damage.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 11:15PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

I did see a LOT of the white "tents" from the Eastern Tent Caterpillar this spring around my town, but here there wasn't any notable defoliation except on some Prunus and Acer negundo, but they're fully re-leafed now.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 11:17PM
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Fall Canker Worms

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 7:55AM
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beng(z6 western MD)

There's been alot of tent catepillars this yr. When there's alot, some migrate off their usual black cherries onto other species, including oaks. When I was a kid there were rare tent-catepillar "plagues" w/armies of them crawling on the streets & sidewalks.

That said, there's quite a few oak predator insects, so hard to say. Don't think it's Gypsy moths, tho -- not here at least.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 8:04AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

The gypsy moths seem to have become much less of a problem in general due to the fungal disease that now keeps their numbers in check.

Nothing like the devastation of the '80s - early '00s.

I still think most of the dead snags of large trees you see in parts of PA are due to the gypsy moths. Although things are starting to fill in nicely in those areas now.

The "benefit" was that a lot of the understory was able to fill in, although anecdotally I've heard a lot of the oaks in PA that perished are being replaced by red and sugar maple instead of oak.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 9:17AM
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This is the first year in recent memory that the forest tent caterpillars didn't totally defoliate all the young oaks in my yard, forcing them to re-leaf.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 10:17AM
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Really I wanted to get that BT Baccillis Thur???? But I could'nt find any locally. The Seven kills alot of different bugs, likely good guys as well as bad. The Bt is worm specific, hopefully not earthworms, but ... the least evil, you know.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 7:42PM
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