Experts Say Oak Wilt Can Be Prevented


PITTSBURGH,None - A deadly tree fungus is spreading through the Pittsburgh region and is killing oak trees. The disease known as oak wilt has already hit parts of Frick Park. Experts say homeowners can help stop the spread of the disease by treating healthy oaks.

Oak wilt is spread by a fungus. If your trees are infected, it's already too late and they will have to be removed. But if they're still healthy, they can be treated with a fungicide to prevent the disease.

Here's what you need to look for: When an oak tree is infected the tips of the leaves start to turn brown. You'll notice this in early to midsummer when the trees are in full canopy. Leaves will then start to fall long before they should.

To prevent oak wilt, experts recommend you hire a professional arborist to give your oaks a shot of fungicide. It costs about $175 to treat a typical full-grown tree.

"Everybody needs to be vigilant. This is a disease that we can control. Once a tree is symptomatic it has to be removed," said Philip Gruszka, director of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

Foresters also caution that you need to be careful with the lawn mower or the weed whacker, because nicks in the bark attract picnic beetles, which often carry the fungus and transmit the disease.