Oak wilt disease is caused by the fungus Bretziella fagacearum, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service. The fungus, introduced by beetles, invades and disables the water-conducting system in oaks; all oaks can be infected by the fungus that causes oak wilt, according to the organization.
Painting wounds on the trees, or putting a pruning seal coat on all abrasions and broken branches, will be important, forest service officials said. However, wounds that were caused by the ice storm are no longer fresh; the sap-feeding beetles that cause the wilt are not active, so it is unlikely oak wilt will spread as a result of an initial ice storm event, forest service officials said.
Instead, the forest service is recommending the following items be addressed immediately:
- Broken limbs on roofs, fences or other structures
- Limbs blocking driveways and travel lanes
- Hanging limbs that could cause personal or property damage if they fall
The city of Lakeway has also put out information to help residents understand how to paint oak wounds, and recommends spraying each wound when pruning and cutting with a pruning seal or black paint so none are missed.
More information is available at https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/afterthestorm.