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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - July 14, 2009

From: Cincinnati, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Yellow-orange fungus on Ash tree in Ohio
Answered by: Nina Hawkins

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a large ash tree which started growing some yellowish orange fungus around the base this spring. With this fungus there are also black bugs with a orange marking near its head and another marking across its lower back section, both running horizontal. They seem to be working on the fungus at times. Do you have any idea what these are, or what to do about them? Thanks a bunch for your time.

ANSWER:

I think the black and orange bug you have is a type of Pleasing Fungus Beetle, probably the Red-banded Fungus Beetle, Megalodacne fasciata that typically feed on bracket fungi, Ganoderma spp.  The bugs themselves are likely only interested in the fungus and pose no harm to the ash tree.  Ganoderma is a wood-decaying fungus that has no cure and will eventually kill your ash tree - though this could take many years.  Since visibility of the brightly colored fruiting body is often indicative of advanced root decay and structural instability, you may want to have the health of the tree evaluated by an arborist if the tree is in a location where it could harm structures or other trees when it falls.  Trees are often infected by fungi when the trunk or lower roots are wounded.  This fact sheet, How to Care for Tree Wounds, by the Ohio State University Extension provides information that may help you prevent other trees on your property from contracting fungal infection.  If the tree is not in danger of harming anything else when it falls, you might enjoy taking the 'live and let die' approach.  As the Pleasing Fungus Beetles you noted are clear evidence of, trees in all stages of decline and death are a rich part of natural habitat and attract a myriad of creatures and insects who rely on them for food and shelter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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