Canada’s valued forests and urban areas are threatened by invasive forest insects and 
pathogens that impact these ecosystems, the economy, and society, including human 
health. Prevention, detection, and monitoring strategies, including outreach and community monitoring programs, provide high return-on-investment when managing 
invasive species. 

The goal of this project is empower Canadians with the knowledge and tools to monitor the health of their trees, and increase priority pest surveillance efforts in the Province of Ontario through community data collection.

Public reports help create a better understanding of the status of invasive species in Canada, both where species are present as well as areas they are not currently found. 

How to Use the Tree Check Form

The tree check form provides a simple guide for what to look for when you are surveying trees in your community. Each survey has room for up to three reports, each of which can be used for a different type of tree. If you are only reporting one species of tree (oak, for example), please leave all other report sections blank. If you are unsure of what species you are surveying, provide your best guess and a photo.  When surveying your tree(s) try to be as thorough as possible, checking alcomponents of the tree that are accessible (E.g. trunk, branches, crown, leaves, and roots). Invasive species often start their infestation at the top of the tree moving downwards, so make sure to inspect the crown for discolouration, or branch dieback. Ensure to look past the tree(s) and record the environment around them as well.  Reporting both healthy and unhealthy trees are important and provide valuable information. Do your best when filling out the tree check form and when in doubt, snap a photo and upload it to the tree check form for expert analysis.  

Common Signs of Invasive Species

Signs of invasive forest pests and pathogens can show in various severities depending on the level of damage and species present. Common signs and symptoms of invasive pests to look for on trees are 

  • Leaf discolouration 
  • Branch dieback 
  • Evidence of exit holes, cracks, or peeling bark  
  • Increased woodpecker activity  
  • Presence of egg masses 
  • Frass (sawdust/wood shavings) 
  • Mould growth 
  • Sap running from tree 
  • Evidence of feeding activity on the leaves 
  • Noticeable insect population on tree (e.g., caterpillars, aphids, etc.) 

Here are some photo examples of what to look out for:

Egg masses along tree trunk (Gypsy moth)

Hemlock woolly adelgid

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

Woolly cotton-like egg masses on branches. (Hemlock woolly adelgid)

Large cracks and irregularities in the bark can be a sign of pathogens or larval activity. (Oak wilt pressure pads)

Premature leaf discolouration. (Oak wilt leaf damage)

Insects exit holes can range from 3 – 19 mm large depending on the insect. (Emerald ash borer exit hole)

Egg masses along tree trunk (Gypsy moth)
Woolly cotton-like egg masses on branches. (Hemlock woolly adelgid)
Large cracks and irregularities in the bark can be a sign of pathogens or larval activity. (Oak wilt pressure pads)
Insects exit holes can range from 3 - 19 mm large depending on the insect. (Emerald ash borer exit hole)
Premature leaf discolouration. (Oak wilt leaf damage)

Importance of surveying and submitting the health status of your trees

Invasive species are a persistent threat that need to be monitored continuously, the more eyes on the ground monitoring for early signs and symptoms of pest activity, the better! By continuously surveying the health status of your property and community trees, you are contributing to the defence against invasive forest pests. Continued monitoring is essential in ensuring invasive species do not move into your communities undetected.  

Continuous community reporting of tree health is vital to understanding the health status of Canadian forests, which is vital tmaking informed decisions when developing management strategiesBy submitting to the tree check form, you are helping supplement the CFIA’s forest monitoring efforts and ensure a broader understanding of forest health in Canada.  

Disclaimer:

This project is run is collaboration with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Under the Plant Protection Act, any report of a species under quarantine significance will be followed up by the CFIA. By completing the form you agree that should a species of quarantine significance be reported in your tree check form, CFIA has the authority to contact you or visit the site for inspection.

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