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Symptoms of Thousand Cankers Disease. (Image by Karen Snover-Clift, Cornell University,
LITTLE ROCK -- A beetle the size of the period at the end of this sentence is proving
to be the biggest smuggler of a major threat to the nation’s eastern black walnut
Black walnuts are prized for their unique flavor and are used in pies and other pastries
and Native Americans used the hulls for digestive health.
The culprit is the walnut twig beetle, who carries the spores of the fungus that causes
Thousand Cankers Disease. The disease is somewhat unique in that it is native to the
western United States, but now that it has spread eastward, courtesy the tiny beetle,
and attacks black walnuts, which have no resistance.
“We’ve seen invasive species nearly cause the extinction of valuable native American
tree species such as elm and chestnut. Historically, both have been economically important
trees in the U.S.,” said Tamara Walkingstick, associate director of the Arkansas Forest
Resource Center of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
Sadly, there’s no reliable way to control Thousand Cankers Disease, but humans can
prevent further spread by not moving firewood or unprocessed black walnut wood or
nursery stock from or into restricted areas. Recommendations are for infested trees
to be cut down and burned on site, or if burning is not possible, then the tree should
be cut down and left to decompose on site.
The cankers expand and girdle infected trees, disrupting flow of water and nutrients.
The leaves will turn yellow, wilt and turn brown. Branches will die and the whole
tree will succumb about three years after the first symptoms of decline show.
Thousand Cankers has been found in eastern Tennessee, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Extension Forester Jon Barry said it’s important for the public to know how to identify
invasive species and understand how these non-native pests spread.
“We have the http://www.arinvasives.org/ web site designed to provide information about ID and control of forest invasive
pests,” he said. “We encourage people to plant native ornamental plants, or at least
make sure that what they plant is not invasive.”
Arkansans are also being encouraged to “to report possible sightings of invasive pests
to the Cooperative Extension Service or State Plant Board or the federal Animal and
Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS,” he said
To learn more about thousand cankers disease, visit www.thousandcankers.com/.
For more information about invasive species in Arkansas, visit http://www.arinvasives.org/, our newly revamped site at www.uaex.uada.edu, or contact your county extension office.
The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division
of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race,
color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status,
or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity
By Mary HightowerThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) email@example.com