Beech Bark Disease
Nectina coccinea var, faginata
Beech bark disease results in severe die-back in mature Beech trees, potentially creating a significant threat to wildlife, biodiversity, and sustainable forestry in Ontario. While this new disease poses a significant threat to Ontario’s majestic beech stands, not all beech are killed by the disease, and prevention on individual beech trees is possible.
After introduction of the beech scale insect to Nova Scotia in 1890, the nectria fungus began infecting wounds opened up by the insect. Beech bark disease is marching from east to west through the maritimes, Quebec, and throughout the northeastern United States including New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. Recently, the disease has been identified in southern Ontario
Impacts of Beech Bark Disease
- Beech bark disease attacks mature trees over 8 inches in diameter, rather than small, more vigorous stems.
- Decreases the amount of forage trees for wildlife. The beechnuts are an important food source for wildlife, especially black bears.
- Severely weakens trees, exposing them to other stresses.
- Reduces the marketability or use in wood products.
How to identify Beech Bark Disease
- Mature beech scales are a soft bodied, wingless insect, 0.5 – 1.0 mm long.
- After feeding on the sap under the smooth beech bark, the scale is easily recognized by the covering of white wooly wax on their outer body.
- In fall, the fungal fruiting bodies can be seen as deep-red, lemon-shaped structures in the bark.
- Infection by the nectria fungus may also result in oozing from the bark.
- Tree crowns appear yellow and die back.
What You Can Do
- Learn how to properly identify the signs and symptoms of beech bark disease.
- Individual high-value ornamental beech trees can be controlled with commercially available products.
- Look for large, healthy individuals with no signs of disease within areas of high infection. These mature trees may be immune to the disease and can provide an excellent seed source for the next generation of beech bark disease resistant trees.
- Report all sightings to the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711 or report a sighting online.
OFAH/OMNR Invading Species Awareness Program. (2012). Beech Bark Disease. Retrieved from: http://www.invadingspecies.com. This factsheet may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes.