Got Nature? Blog

Posted on July 8th, 2020 in Forestry, How To, Plants, Urban Forestry | No Comments »

Purdue urban forester Lindsey Purcell shares tips for tree pruning for the landscape, including knowing why you are pruning, how to prune and how to help the tree heal properly.

Please visit the Tree Pruning for the Landscape Survey after you watch the video so we can learn more about you and feel free to share your suggestions for future topics.

Resources
Tree Pruning Essentials, Video & Document
Tree Appraisal and the Value of Trees, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resources Center
Tree Pruning: What Do Trees Think?, The Education Store
Mechanical Damage to Trees: Mowing and Maintenance Equipment, The Education Store
Tree Installation Process and Practices, The Education Store
Tree Planting Part 1: Choosing a Tree, The Education Store
Tree Planting Part 2: Planting Your Tree, The Education Store
Planting Problems: Planting Too Deep, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


blue spruce needle castQuestion: I have a blue spruce that is 40-years old and very tall. It is dying up the middle. I have read about the Needle Cast problem. Also read about Spectro 90 copper based fungus control. I can only spray so high. Is there a chemical that can be placed on the ground to be absorbed by the tree?

Answer: Thank you for contacting us regarding your tree issues. Rhizosphaera needle cast (Rhizosphaera kalkhoffii) is a foliar disease of spruce trees. It is most common in trees growing outside of their native range. It starts on the inner and lower growth and progresses upward through the tree. It can take up to 15 months for the needles to show visible symptoms after the initial infection. Young trees may be killed by this disease, but usually branches die off after 3-4 consecutive years of defoliation, causing trees to look disfigured.

Early identification of Rhizosphaera can prevent major damage to individual trees and prevent the spread to nearby trees. Protecting new growth as it emerges is very important. For best effectiveness, fungicides should be applied when the emerging needles are half elongated (1/2 to 2 inches in length). Needle cast diseases can be effectively controlled with fungicides containing chlorothalonil. For Rhizosphaera needle cast, two properly-timed applications per year for at least two consecutive years, and sometimes three years, is required for control. Heavily infected trees may require several years of fungicide applications but should be sprayed, soil drenches are not effective. Also, clean-up of any infected needles and branches will help reduce the spread of the disease.

Resources
Needle cast in Colorado Blue Spruce, Purdue Landscape Report
Blue Spruce Update, Purdue Landscape Report
Why Spruce Trees Lose Their Needles, Purdue Extension
Blue Spruce Decline, Purdue Extension
Diseases Common in Blue Spruce, Purdue Extension
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Tree Planting and Urban Forestry Videos, Subscribe to our Purdue Extension-FNR YouTube Channel

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on July 3rd, 2020 in How To, Safety, Urban Forestry, Webinar, Wildlife | No Comments »

Across the entire United States, and into Canada and Mexico, coyotes can be found just about everywhere. But what would you do if you encountered a coyote while out all alone? Would you feel comfortable knowing how to act? How about how to keep your children or pets safe in such an encounter? 

In our June 11th Ask the Experts series, “Coexisting with Coyotes,” Purdue researchers Brian MacGowan and Bee Overbey talked about these topics and more. As a keystone species in their ecosystem, coyotes play an extremely important role in maintaining population levels of other animals, such as deer, rabbits, raccoons, and voles. By keeping these populations in check, plants and trees are better able to grow, and this creates greater biodiversity and healthier habitat. And coyotes are not going anywhere! This resilient, intelligent species has learned to adapt around humans and every change that we bring.

Check out the video below to learn more about coyotes, how important they are to the lands where they are found, and tips on how to coyote-proof your property and keep yourself and your loved ones safe in coyote encounters. By working together, we can easily and safely coexist with this vital native species.

Resources
Ask an Expert, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel
Coyote Safety, Video
Coyotes are on the Move, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue FNR Extension
Urban Coyotes – Should You Be Concerned?, Got Nature? Blog
Coyotes (PDF), Wildlife Conflicts, Department of Entomology, Purdue University
Urban Coyote Research Center, Urban Coyote Ecology & Managenet, Cook County, Illinois
Coyotes, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)-Fish and Wildlife
Coyotes a Constant Problem in Indy Suburbs, IndyStar

Brian MacGowan, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources

Brande (Bee) Overbey, Graduate Research Assistant
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources


Marking your property line can ensure you are receiving the full benefit of the property you own. Lenny Farlee, Purdue Extension forester, shares in the video below a new inexpensive way to mark your property line and has the same force of the law as no trespassing signs have.

Resources
Indiana Department of Natural Resources – Division of Forestry, District Foresters 
A Woodland Management Moment, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel
Woodland Stewardship for Landowners, Playlist
Investing in Indiana Woodlands, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store
Timber Harvesting and Logging Practices for Private Woodlands, The Education Store

Lenny Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on June 19th, 2020 in Disease, Forestry, How To, Land Use, Urban Forestry | No Comments »

Purdue Landscape Report: Trees provide many benefits for our homes and properties. If a tree is found to have a defect such as dead branches or broken limbs from a storm; it can become a risk issue. It is important to understand that tree owners have a duty to inspect and maintain their trees. All property owners should take reasonable steps to protect themselves by involving a qualified consultant or certified arborist when needed.

Pic-1

Figure 1. Trees should be inspected for defects which pose a threat or risk to targets.

All trees have some sort of risk involved with it. They are living organisms that are endangered by environmental impacts and pests. However, it is important to create a balance between the risk a tree may pose and the benefits provided by the tree. We don’t want to remove trees unnecessarily, but rather reduce the liability by Identifying, analyzing and evaluating the problem.

Inspect regularly: Trees should be assessed through inspections by a qualified arborist, preferably an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist. It is especially important to inspect trees after major weather events. At a minimum, trees should be carefully checked out every 3-5 years.

Document and maintain records: Every inspection should be recorded and kept on file for future reference. Past evaluations can show how a tree has changed in its health and structure over the years. Also, these written evaluations could minimize liability if a failure occurs and a claim is filed against the tree owner.

Pic-2

Figure 2. Targets are people, property or activities that could be disrupted by a tree failure.

Tree Inspections: For a tree to be considered a risk it must be defective and a target that is threatened.

target is people, property or activities that could be injured, damaged or disrupted by a tree failure. Review everything in the target zone. This should include the area inside a circle around the tree, which is at least as wide as the total tree height.

Read the body language of the tree. Inspect each section of the tree including the crown, branches and root zone to check for signs of failure. These include:

  • Dead, diseased, dying or broken branches.
  • Thinning or poor canopy health.
  • An unstable branching pattern overextended or weakly attached branches, or cracks in the stems.
  • Cracks or decayed areas in the main trunk.
  • Exposed or decayed roots, heaving of the soil, fungus growth or cracks in the soil around the root plate.

Among the characteristics to consider when conducting tree risk evaluations are:

  • Decay, cankers, cracks and other positive indicators of weakness in the roots, stems and branches.
  • Canopy size, shape and weight distribution. This is especially true in situations where a tree is exposed to windy conditions, is leaning or has a poor stem-to-canopy ratio.
  • Crown architecture. Poor branching and similar characteristics can create high-risk situations in strong winds and other weather conditions.
  • Plant health and vigor. This determines how a tree can overcome wounding or pest infestations.
Pic-3

Figure 3. Regular tree inspections should occur reviewing all parts of the tree.

What do you do when a defect is found?
The goal is to reduce the likelihood of failure. Most of the time pruning can improve risk situations. Perhaps cabling and bracing may be an option. Also, plant health care improves the trees condition which can reduce risk… the last option should be removal and that should be an informed decision.

Recurrent inspections to determine tree health and condition are important for sustainable, long-lived tree plantings. The most important factor for any tree owner is know when to contact an ISA Certified Arborist who understands tree risk assessment. They can help with the decision making for the tree if there are concerns about its safety and health.

For more information refer to the publication Tree Risk Management and Trees and Storms at the Purdue Education Store.

Find a certified arborist in your area by going to Trees are Good.

Resources
Planting Problems: Trees Planted Too Deep, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel
Planting Your Tree Part 1: Choosing Your Tree, Video, Purdue Extension Youtube Channel
Tree Planting Part 2: Planting a Tree, Video, Purdue Extension Youtube Channel
Tree Appraisal and the Value of Trees, The Educational Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Surface Root Syndrome, The Education Store
Iron Chlorosis of Trees and Shrubs, The Education Store
Tree Pruning Essentials, Publication & Video, The Education Store
Cold Injury to Trees, Got Nature? Post, Purdue FNR Extension

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forest Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Recently during an online program (video) I received a question about the risk of using toxicants for controlling moles in lawns. Specifically, the question was if animals (pets or wild animals) ate the moles that consumed the bromethalin “worms” or “grubs” would that harm them. I decided to do some digging (no pun intended) for more information so people can make informed decisions regarding their use.

What is bromethalin?
From the Purdue University Animal Disease and Diagnostic Laboratory:
“Bromethalin was developed and released in 1985 to combat a world-wide problem of rodent resistance to warfarin-like anticoagulant rodenticides. Bromethalin is not an anticoagulant but is a highly potent rodenticide that provides a lethal dose to rodents in a single feeding. Death occurs within 24 to 36 hours after ingestion. It is a pale, odorless, crystalline solid compound in the diphenylamine family. Its mechanism of action is to uncouple oxidativephosphorylation in the mitochondria of the central nervous system. This leads to a decreased production of ATP. Low levels of ATP inhibit the activity of the Na/K ATPase and lead to a subsequent buildup of cerebral spinal fluid and vacuolization of myelin. The increased CSF results in high intracranial pressure, causing damage to nerve axons, inhibiting neural transmission and leading to paralysis, convulsions and death. Signs of a sub-lethal dose include hind limb ataxia, depression, extensor rigidity, opisthotonus, lateral recumbency and vomiting. High doses may bring about severe muscle fasiculations, hind limb hyper-reflexia, seizures, hyperthennia, depression and death.”

From the Merk Veterinary Manual:
“Bromethalin, a nonanticoagulant, single-dose rodenticide, is a neurotoxin available as bars (blocks), pellets, seed, and worm. Mole baits are sold as worm containing 0.025% bromethalin, whereas rat and mouse baits contain 0.01% bromethalin. Bromethalin and its main metabolite desmobromethalin are strong uncouplers of oxidative phosphorylation. This results in intra-myelin fluid accumulation, leading to long nerve demyelination and intra-myelin cerebral edema. The net result is cerebral and spinal edema and increased CSF pressure, leading to neurologic dysfunction. In toxicity trials, the oral toxic dose of bromethalin when used as part of bait appears to be much lower than the dose administered as a technical grade agent. For example, in dogs, an average lethal dose of technical grade bromethalin is reported to be 4.7 mg/kg but 2.38 mg/kg in bait. Young dogs (<1 yr old) appear more sensitive; death has been reported at dosages of ~1 mg/kg in bait. Dogs are more commonly involved. Cats are 2–3 times more sensitive than dogs.”

moleDamage2 MoleDamage1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the risk with mole baits?
The level of risk of any pesticide depends on a combination of toxicity and exposure. Anytime you are considering using a toxicant or other pesticide, first read the label in its entirety. Labels will contain information on how to apply a product safely, under what circumstances, and any precautions you should take. However, labels also contain other information that can users determine if they should use a product. This information is key in preventing pesticide exposure to people and the environment. In fact the label is a legal document. The pesticide user is bound by law to follow all label directions. Label directions for mole baits instruct users to keep pets out of treated areas and not to use the product above ground. Bait must be applied directly into moles’ tunnel systems. Following these directions will greatly reduce, or even eliminate, the exposure risk to pets. What might be the consequences if your dog or a neighbor’s dog mistakenly entered your yard and went digging around in a treated area?

To determine this we can calculate how much bait a dog would have to consume to reach the average lethal dose. The more technical term is the LD50 dose which is the individual dose that kills 50 percent of a population of test animals. A single worm mole bait weighs approximately 5g since a package of 20 worms has a weight of 100g.  With 0.025% active ingredient, each worm would contain 1.25 mg of bromethalin. Thus, an 11lb (5kg) dog would need to consume 18 to 19 worms to reach the average lethal dose using the 4.7 mg/kg level for technical grade bromethalin, or 9 to 10 worms for the 2.38 mg/kg level in bait. Recall, these rates were listed in the Merk Veterinary Manual. The amount of bait consumption would be more for larger dogs. The average lethal dose is just that – an average. Some dogs would die with lower dosages and some with higher dosages within a specified timeframe.

It would be extremely unlikely that a dog could find, dig up, and consume the number of worms to reach or even approach the average lethal dose. Consider the following:

  • How many worm baits will you use? According to label directions, worm baits are placed underground every 5 to 10 feet in active subsurface runways. Worms may be placed in the deeper underground runways. Limiting their use to only active runways reduces the amount of product applied. The label directions outline the procedure for identifying active runways.
  • Applying the product according to label instructions (in underground active mole tunnels) helps minimize the risk of accidental ingestion. However there are additional strategies to prevent accidental ingestion of the bait, including: applying the product in areas inaccessible to pets or installing barriers, covering the application sites with pavers, and supervising the pet’s use of the yard (especially important for dogs that like to dig). Allow at least two weeks (or longer under dry conditions) for breakdown of any uneaten worms.
  • Toxic baits placed in runways breakdown over time. That is, a treated area is not treated forever. This is a direct quote from one manufacturer, “Uneaten worms typically remain intact up to 14 days in mole runs. The amount of time it takes for the Mole Killer worm to degrade depends on soil type and the weather. Frequent and heavy rain or high temperatures may accelerate worm degradation. The active ingredient takes longer to degrade.”
  • Toxic baits may be combined with other methods. For example, you may choose to limit use of toxic baits only in areas where the soil type or tunnel structure make trapping difficult.

In the end, it is up to the individual user on whether or not they choose to use toxic baits to get rid of moles in their yard. If you do choose to use them, read the label in its entirety. In the case of mole toxicants, the label clearly states that pets should not be allowed in treated areas. If you are not confident this is possible, then alternative control options are likely a better option for you.


Resources
Pesticides and personal safety (pdf), Purdue Pesticide Program
Pesticides and wildlife (pdf), Purdue Pesticide Program
Moles, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Adjuvants and the Power of the Spray Droplet: Improving the Performance of Pesticide Applications, The Education Store
Purdue Extension – FNR: Ask An Expert, Video, Purdue Extension –  Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube channel

Brian MacGowan, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on June 2nd, 2020 in Forestry, How To, Urban Forestry | No Comments »

Purdue urban forester Lindsey Purcell talks about a common planting problem for trees or shrubs that can possibly kill your tree: planting too deep. In the video below he helps you identify the issue and how to remedy it. Follow Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube channel for more useful tree planting tips.

Resources
Tree Pruning Essentials, FNR-541-WV, Video, Purdue Extension Youtube Channel
Mechanical Damage to Trees: Mowing and Maintenance Equipment, The Education Store
Tree Installation Process and Practices, The Education Store
Tree Planting Part 1: Choosing a Tree, The Education Store
Tree Planting Part 2: Planting Your Tree, The Education Store
Surface Root Syndrome, The Education Store
Tree Appraisal and the Value of Trees, The Education Store
Question: What are these pretty green flower shaped growth spots? Will they damage the tree?, Got Nature? Post, Purdue FNR Extension

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


May IDNR Wildlife Bulletin Newsletter: Spring is here and with many of us stuck near home, we may notice new arrivals in our backyards. This time of year, many wild animals are born, including rabbits, squirrels, birds, and fawns. Other wildlife, like turtles, are on the move and more likely to be seen. While it’s easy to enjoy the great outdoors and practice social distancing from people, remember to practice social distancing from wildlife, too. Help us keep wildlife wild.

Deer• Remember that adult animals rarely abandon their young – It is common for the parent to leave them while they search for food. Do not hover to see if a parent comes back; they won’t return if a person is standing nearby. Give the animal space and only check back periodically.

• Young wildlife should not be handled. They can carry diseases or parasites and are capable of inflicting damage by biting or scratching. Human scent can also alert predators to the young animal’s presence. However, nestlings and small mammals can be safely returned to their nests if they have fallen out and are uninjured. Once the animal has been returned safely, leave the area.

• Pets should be supervised at all times when outdoors. With so many young animals in nests, this keeps both pets and wildlife safe.

• Except for properly maintained birdfeeders, do not feed wildlife. Feeding wildlife can lead to loss of fear, conflicts, and diseases spreading. Creating habitat is a healthy alternative that provides both food and shelter.Eastern box turtle

• Help turtles cross roads, don’t take them home. May marks the beginning of turtle nesting season, and some species are endangered or of special concern. Let them continue to contribute to wild populations by only helping turtles cross roads. Be sure to move them in the direction they were heading once traffic has cleared.

While rescuing young wildlife is legal, keeping them is not. Truly orphaned wild animals must be given to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator within 24 hours to maximize their chance of survival.  For more information about orphaned wildlife, visit Orphaned & Injured Animals.

Resources
Orphaned & Injured Animals, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Resourceful Animal Relationships, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Orphaned Wildlife, Got Nature? blog
No Room at the Inn: Suburban Backyards and Migratory Birds, The Education Store
Purdue Extension – FNR: Ask The Expert, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube channel

Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IN DNR)


Purdue Forestry & Natural Resources extension specialists gathered for a Facebook LIVE event held May 5th to answer questions on a wide range of topics from woodland management to wildlife habitat, ponds to invasive species and more.

Topics ranged from what to do about moles, voles and Canada geese causing damage in your yard, to how to pick the right tree for your landscape and how to measure the worth of your trees. The presentation also included segments on what to do about algae in your pond to how to know if you need to restock it as well as what to do about invasive plant species and how to protect your trees from deer damage.

Get advice from extension specialists Jarred Brooke, Lenny Farlee, Brian MacGowan, Lindsey Purcell, Rod Williams and Mitch Zischke in the video below.

If you have any further questions feel free to send your questions by submitting our Ask An Expert form.

Resources mentioned:
Purdue Extension – The Education Store
Purdue Report Invasive Species Website
Midwest Invasive Species Network Database
TreesAreGood.org
Find a Forester in Indiana
Improve My Property for Wildlife, Purdue Extension
Online Mole Program, Event May 14th, Purdue FNR Extension
Have you seen a hairless squirrel, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue FNR Extension
Stocking Fish, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Tree Selection for the “Un-natural” Environment, The Education Store
Selecting a Nuisance Control Operator, The Education Store
Forest Products Price Report (pdf), Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Indiana DNR Nuisance Goose Control Options (pdf), Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Turtles of Indiana, The Education Store
Salamanders of Indiana, The Education Store
Frogs and Toads of Indiana, The Education Store
Snakes and Lizards of Indiana, The Education Store
Aquatic Plant Management, The Education Store
Native Grasses, The Education Store
Preventing Deer Browsing on Trees/Shrubs, Video, Purdue Extension Youtube Channel

Brian MacGowan, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Our recent cold mornings resulted in late freeze damage to many trees and shrubs. This damage to newly emerging shoots and leaves follows a few hours of temperatures below the freezing mark. Damage is usually characterized by wilting browning of new growth, particularly leaves and needles. It may take a few days, or until temperatures begin warming again, for damage to become evident.

The photos below reveal some late freeze damage in southern Indiana, shared by a concerned tree owner. It is often dramatic and can cause concern for homeowners and landscapers. Fortunately, the damage is largely aesthetic, and plants will quickly resume growth.

Redbud-Close-Shot

Two-Redbud-Trees

Plant Freeze4

Plants Freeze

 

 

 

 

 

What can you expect? Typically, the damaged or dead leaves will fall and new leaves will emerge, although somewhat slowly. A reduction in growth and leaf size can be anticipated as well. Just remain calm and wait for the tree to recover. If the tree was vigorous going into winter and had a good store of carbohydrates, it can withstand an environmental hit such as these cold extremes.

scratch the barkIf branches or stems don’t show any evidence of bud or leaf emergence, lightly scratch the bark with your thumbnail. If the green cambial layer is revealed, the tree is likely just slowly emerging from dormancy. If there is no green tissue evident, it is likely dead. Prune out the dead branches to a living later branch and assess the plant.

Resources
Question: What are these pretty green flower shaped growth spots? Will they damage the tree?, Got Nature? Post, Purdue FNR Extension
Iron Chlorosis of Trees and Shrubs, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Tree Diseases: Oak Wilt in Indiana, The Education Store
Tree Diseases: White Pine Decline in Indiana, The Education Store
Mechanical Damage to Trees: Mowing and Maintenance Equipment, The Education Store
Surface Root Syndrome, The Education Store
Tree Appraisal and the Value of Trees, The Education Store

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


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