Squirrel Damage or Oak Wilt: Can you tell the difference?
August 19, 2015
You may have noticed a lot of squirrel action in your trees lately. This is the time of year that squirrel damage is at its most extreme. They are busy readying their nests for the upcoming winter and foraging for nuts to stash away. Unfortunately, all that work they do to survive takes it’s toll on your large shade trees. Often though, you might mistake squirrel damage for oak wilt, or vice versa. So let’s break down the differences:
Squirrels can do a lot of damage to your trees before you even realize there is a problem. They strip the bark off branches and chew off smaller branches and twigs. Part of the twig harvesting may be for nesting; however female squirrels often chew on bark to relieve the pain and stress of pregnancy (hey, we get it!). You may see chunks of dead stems at the end of tree branches. or missing bark.
The chewing and bark stripping results in open wounds on your tree,making it more susceptible to pests and disease that can easily the wounds. When enough damage is done to branches, it could potentially cause an entire branch of foliage to die off. This is especially dangerous during peak oak wilt transmission time from February through June. This is why we only prune your oak trees from July through January. Sometimes the die off in trees as a result of squirrel activity is confused with oak wilt.
Or is it Oak Wilt?
This is also the time of year when oak wilt disease can come on strong in oak trees. Oak wilt
also causes entire branches of foliage to die off and so it can often
be confused with squirrel damage. A good way to tell if your tree is
infected with oak wilt, besides having your tree assessed by a certified
arborist, is to look at the fallen leaves at the base of the tree. If
the leaves that have dropped have red and yellow veins with blotches of
discoloration, then it could be oak wilt disease. If so, you’ll want to
have your trees checked by a professional immediately.
Think your tree might be suffering from squirrel damage? Or are you concerned your oak tree might really be suffering from oak wilt disease? Call us for a diagnosis. Scheduling an annual tree check-up for all the trees on your property is always a good idea. Prevention is always the best medicine.