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The Plight Of The Elm Tree: What You Can Do To Help

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Elm trees are tall, green and stately components of properties across the United States. Unfortunately, a disease known as Dutch elm disease has been threatening these trees for decades. Caused by three related species of fungi in the Ophiostoma genus, Dutch elm disease is deadly and always claims the lives of trees that it infects. In order to eradicate Dutch elm disease and protect the mighty elm trees of the U.S., it's important that everyone works together. Here's what you can do:

Don't move firewood.

The fungus that causes Dutch elm disease is carried from tree to tree by a type of beetle known as the elm bark beetle. These beetles can hide out in fallen wood or firewood, and then when they arrive on new property, infect an elm tree. So, if you ever go camping, make sure you only burn wood from that immediate area. Don't pick wood up somewhere else and bring it with you since there is no way for you to guarantee it's free of elm bark beetles.

Watch your own elm trees.

If you have elm trees on your property, keep a close eye on them. If they ever develop symptoms of this disease, you'll want to have a tree care expert come out and diagnose your tree promptly. Having infected trees removed from your land is important, since this will reduce the spread of the disease. You don't want to just let infected elm trees die and decay on their own since, during this time, elm bark beetles can "stop by," pick up the fungus, and carry it to other trees.

The primary symptom of Dutch elm disease is yellowing leaves. This begins on a few branches (often near the crown) and slowly spreads over the entire tree. After yellowing, the leaves curl up, turn brown, and fall to the ground.

Protect your own elm trees.

As a homeowner, it's your job to do all you can to protect the elm trees that are on your property. This includes:

  • Having the tree pruned regularly to remove dead or damaged branches. Dead branches are more appealing to elm bark beetles.
  • Cleaning up fallen leaves and branches promptly in the fall. This debris can harbor beetles and the elm bark fungus.
  • Having young trees sprayed with pesticides if you notice a lot of insect activity.

Dutch elm disease has been a disaster for elms in the United States, but if everyone adheres to the principles above, it will hopefully eventually be eradicated or greatly reduced. For more tips, contact a company like Todd's Tree Service Inc.