Native hemlocks face a grave danger.
|Wooly adelgid infestation, photographed by Flikr user Nicholas_T|
Hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is a non-native invasive pest that impacts eastern hemlock and Carolina hemlock. HWA has spread to the Southern Appalachian region of northern Georgia, western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and southern Virginia. Without control, hemlocks typically die within five to seven years after infestation.
Hemlock trees serve important ecological roles in the southern Appalachians. They are a keystone species in near-stream areas, providing critical habitat for birds and other animals, and shading streams to maintain cool water temperatures required by trout and other aquatic organisms. Hemlocks are also prized for their visual beauty in both forest and urban settings, and are a contributor to residential property values.
Source " Emerging Issues in the South: Hemlock Wooly Adelgid" a website of the USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station Headquarters in Ashville, North Carolina. Viewed 2/25/07 at http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/cc/emerging/hwa.htm. No longer available.
You should suspect adelgid infection of any hemlock trees that have white, wooly deposits on the undersides of the branches. The wool-like appearance of the insect's secretions is the reason it is called the "wooly hemlock adelgid."
According to a document published by the University of Kentucky, Meeting the Threat of the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid by entymologists Lee Townsend and Lynne Rieske-Kinney, the insect is susceptible to the insecticidal soaps and dormant oils that one can purchase in any garden chemical department. Several treatments are required, and they must be timed to the life cycle of the adelgid. Local county extension agents can advise the best times in spring or fall to spray.
Alternatively, the ground around the tree can be soaked with an insecticide containing imidacloprid so that the tree's roots carry it into the tree. Another method is to inject the insecticide into the tree's trunk. Either way, the adelgid will be killed as it sucks the insecticide-laden sap.
Townsend and Rieske-Kinney caution that the insect can be carried from perch to perch on the feet of birds, so bird feeders should never be placed near hemlock trees.
It seems that this threat is possible to manage in the backyard, but more difficult to control in woodlands. The infestation can be spread by felling an infected tree or by dragging around infected branches. Get advice about treatment, and proceed with care.
|A healthy hemlock, white pine and hardwood forest in northeast|
Pennsylvania. Photographed by Flikr user Nicholas A. Tonelli
Updated July 28, 2013.