Invasive worm enters Southern Tier, ruining food sources for native wildlife

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 7:09 PM EDT
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(WBNG) -- According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Beech Leaf disease has made its way to the Southern Tier.

The disease is caused by an invasive worm and creates a dark striping on the leaves of otherwise healthy Beech trees. It can kill a sapling in less than a year, and mature trees in six to 10 years.

Beech is the predominant forest type in New York, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Terrestrial Program Outreach Coordinator for Finger Lakes PRISM Matt Gallo said the disease is leading to a loss of food for forest wildlife.

“Pretty much for all wildlife - our squirrels, our chipmunks, our bears, our deer - the nuts that Beeches produce in the fall is a very important food source for them,” he said. “So the loss of our Beeches means a loss of food for all of this wildlife.”

Gallo wants the community to be on the lookout for Beech Leaf disease. If you think you have seen signs of the disease, take photos of the symptoms. You may then email photos and location to the DEC at foresthealth@dec.ny.gov.

For more information about Beech Leaf Disease, click here.