Help protect our plants! It's tree check month
August 1, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario
Every August, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) observes Tree Check Month as a reminder of the importance of protecting our precious plants and trees from invasive pests. Throughout this month, Canadians are encouraged to inspect backyards, gardens, local parks and even vehicles, for any unwelcome pests.
Plant health is essential to Canada's economic prosperity and it is directly linked to the health of people, animals and the environment. The introduction and spread of invasive species could have devastating impacts on human and animal health and Canada's forests, agriculture, environment and economy.
Many plant pests and diseases affect the health of plants and trees all across Canada. These pests are most often introduced and spread throughout via human activity. Oak Wilt was found in Canada for the first time in June. This dangerous disease poses a serious threat to oak trees, and if it spreads, it could have a major impact on our forests. Another invasive species to watch out for is the Spotted Lanternfly, which has not yet reached Canada, but is present in the United States near the Canadian border. This pest can be particularly harmful to vineyards and orchards all across the country.
Invasive species and diseases can cause irreversible and widespread damage to our environment, agriculture, and economy. There are many ways Canadians can help protect our forests and plants from invasive species and disease:
- Not all pests are equally spread across Canada. Learn about the invasive insects and plant diseases that could be found in your community on the CFIA's website.
- Inspect the trees in your yard and their surroundings, and look for unusual or sudden changes in the tree's health, such as discoloration of leaves, cracks in the bark, presence of insect holes, tunnels beneath peeled bark, etc. Start your inspection at the roots, move up the trunk and along the branches, looking for noticeable insect populations and signs of feeding activity on the leaves.
- Report suspected invasive species or plant disease to the CFIA. Timely reporting allows CFIA inspectors to investigate the source and take preventive measures against further spread. Early detection is the best way to protect our trees and plants.
- Prevent the spread of invasive species and pests, as they can travel in many different ways. Do your part to stop their spread by checking for egg masses and insects on your vehicle, RV, trailer, boat, etc. before going on and returning from a trip.
- Another way to prevent the spread of pests: don't move firewood. Pests and their eggs can be hiding under the bark. Buy local and burn local instead.
Anyone can participate in Tree Check Month, even kids. Check out our plant health hero activity book where kids can learn about the importance of plant health within their own community and Canada, the numerous threats to plant health like invasive species, and how they can help to protect plant life. Canadians of all ages can play a role in keeping our plants and trees healthy for a better future.
"Healthy plants and trees are crucial for our food, agriculture, forestry, and environment. During Tree Check Month, and also every day of the year, I encourage all Canadians to rally in protecting our beautiful country by taking simple steps to ensure the well-being of our plants and trees."
– Dr. Harpreet S. Kochhar, President, CFIA
"In the face of both new and recurring invasive species, it is important for all of us to do our part to protect Canada's trees and plants from the detrimental effects caused by destructive pests. Now, more than ever, our collective action is essential to safeguarding the well-being of our natural environment."
– Dr. Anthony Anyia, Chief Plant Health Officer, CFIA
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) dubbed August as Tree Check Month to mobilize community scientists and help keep Canada's trees healthy and free from invasive species and pests.
In June 2023, the CFIA confirmed the presence of oak wilt in three locations in Southern Ontario following suspect oak wilt reports received from the public. Oak wilt is a disease caused by the fungus Bretziella fagacearum which develops in the outer sapwood of the tree. Red oaks are particularly susceptible, resulting in tree death within a single season. Oak wilt is spread naturally through root grafts or beetles carrying fungal spores. To help prevent the spread of oak wilt, don't prune oak trees between April and November. Signs of oak wilt are:
- Dull green, brown or yellow leaves
- Cracks in the trunk
- White, grey or black fungus
- Early and sudden leaf drop
The spotted lanternfly is an impressive and colourful insect that can feed on more than 100 species of trees and plants. Although it is a particular threat to the grape and wine industries, it could also affect the fruit tree, nursery, maple syrup and forestry sectors. It is not yet in Canada but has been detected in some parts of the United States close to the border with Canada.
- If you are travelling back from the United States, it's important not to accidentally transport this pest with you into Canada.
- Check your car, camper, trailer or RV for the spotted lanternfly or its egg masses before making the return trip.
- Be sure to check any camping gear or equipment you have with you before returning to Canada.
- If you spot a spotted lanternfly or its egg masses in Canada, snap a photo, catch and place it in a container, and report it to the CFIA.
Other pests of concern include: the emerald ash borer, which has killed millions of trees in North America; the spongy moth, which has a significant impact on forests in eastern Canada and is a major threat to western Canada; the box tree moth, a serious pest of boxwood in Ontario; and the Japanese beetle, a major pest in eastern Canada with current eradication efforts in British Columbia.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
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