|MALE DOWNY WOODPECKER|
|FIFTY YEAR OLD WHITE ASH TREE|
Saturday, 7:15 AM. 1 degree F, wind WSW, light with stronger gusts. The sky is clear, the humidity is 75% and the barometer is 30.56" and beginning to trend down.
At this point there is no information on whether or not the ice caves are open.
The continued spread of the Emerald Ash Borer throughout Wisconsin has been a major topic of concern in the Almanac for some time. There is a relatively new method of monitoring the advance of the insect that is simple, fairly straightforward, and easy for anyone to monitor. It perhaps should have been recognized before now but sometimes the most obvious factors hide in plain site.
It often takes several years for the infestation of ash trees by the borer to become noticeable. Borer activity starts from the top branches and works down over a period of several years. By the time the upper portions of the tree appear to be dying it is usually too late to save it by chemical treatment.
But even as the wood boring grubs feed relatively unnoticed under the tree bark, woodpeckers find them and begin to peck at the wood to get at them. The borer activity may not be noticeable in its early stages, but the woodpecker activity is usualy obvious. So, watch for woodpeckers feeding in the tops of ash trees as a sure sign of the presence of borers, and notify a city forester, state forester or other knowledgeable person so the activity cn be confirmed as that of the Emerald Ash Borer and a decision made as to wether or not to treat the tree with a systemic pesticide.
For some hints on winter identification of ash (Fraxinus species) see the December 13th, 2013, Almanac post.