The mighty Hemlock tree is in grave danger of extinction from a small little bug known as the Hemlock woolly adelgid insect. This insect, a native to the Asian continent is suspected of being brought over to Northern America in the 1920’s. Responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Hemlocks across the eastern seaboard, it is urgent that this tree killing bug be put to rest before the important Hemlock is gone from our landscape forever.
The Hemlock plays a critical role in the life cycles of all of the animals living in and underneath its branches. As they die out, these animals are suddenly exposed to a new environment which many cannot survive. Birds, forest animals and even species of fish are all in danger from the woolly adelgid insect.
If you are lucky enough to play host to a Hemlock on your property, check it carefully for signs of infestation. The dreaded woolly adelgid is covered in a white and waxy wool, resembling tiny cotton balls sitting at the base of the trees needles. These tree parasites are living off of the sap that is created at the base of the Hemlock needle, cutting off the supply of nutrients that the tree needs to survive. The needles will change color and fall off, causing the tree to die in just a few short years.
If your tree is infected you need to act fast, not just for its protection, but for that of other Hemlock trees. This nasty bug travels fast, using the wind or the wings of a bird. Talk to your local forest rangers about how you can apply a foliar treatment to your Hemlock in order to destroy the bugs. They may also suggest an insecticide that can be introduced into the tree through the trunk, spreading upwards and poisoning the feeding insects.
While it is important to treat the tree on your property, it is the destruction of forest sized populations of the Hemlock tree that is of most concern. Organizations across the eastern seaboard from Canada to Georgia are struggling to apply the treatments needed to keep this insect at bay. If not, the lives of thousands of wild animals, plus our very own ecosystem, are at risk of destruction.
The foliar and systemic treatments that you may use on your tree at home can be applied to an entire forest. This is an expensive venture that is dependent on help from the public in order to pull off with success. As the trees are slowly saved using insecticides and oils, a long term solution of predator beetles is also put into place. This hungry little beetle feeds exclusively on the adelgid, and will help to protect future saplings from being affected by the infestation.
You can do more than just save those trees on your own property. Organizations like ours are dependent on donations from the public to keep up with the treatments and save as many of these trees as possible. Even the loss of one tree is the loss of a home for a countless number of essential insects, birds and other wildlife whose lives all intertwine to help make our planet a healthy one.