How You Can Get Involved in the Movement

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.

Why We Need to Save Our Hemlocks

hemlockFor over five years, scientists around the world have been aware of an insect infestation that is attacking the valuable Hemlock tree and ending their life spans much earlier than normal. This is having a devastating effect on the ecosystems of forests all over Northern America.

There is little doubt as to the importance of the hemlock in the ecosystem of a forest. Their large stature and wide branch span provide shade to the ground below keeping streams and rivers at the cool temperatures needed to encourage the growth of fish populations. These same branches, covered in lush needles, provide the ideal home for a variety of different species of birds and forest animals.

It is a non-native insect known as the hemlock woolly adelgid which is causing the trees demise and negatively impacting the precious ecosystems that they protect. Some forests rangers and scientists are predicting that as the infestation continues to grow the entire population of this sturdy tree can be wiped out in less than 10 years. This will have a lasting effect on the North American climate that is impossible to predict, but surely to be negative.

The hemlock woolly adelgid was first introduced to North America during the 1920’s where it quickly began its devastating work on the hemlocks of the Mid-Atlantic states and New England region. Birds and wind are carriers for the insect, but it predominantly travels on already infected horticultural materials.

Under normal circumstances these massive trees are known to grow up to 150 feet tall, with trunks as large as six feet around. There are hemlocks in parks around North America that are even estimated to be over 500 years old. Preserving as many of these trees as possible is not only critical to protecting our environment, it is also saving a population that has played an important role in the history of two nations.

Although not considered to be as strong as woods derived from other trees such as the white pine, Hemlock wood was used in a variety of different building applications, including sub flooring, sheathing and crating by our nations forefathers. The bark turned out to be an indispensable source of tannin, a compound used by hide tanneries.

Aggressive action needs to be taken in order to halt the growth of these killer insects and save the lives of such a valuable resource to our habitat. The rapid growth of the infestations and the ease at which they are able to travel has made the extinction of this tree population imminent unless intervention is applied immediately.

There is such an emphasis placed on preventing the extinction of wild life animals, and yet little is down to protect the habitats in which they live. Allowing these lustrous trees to die out can bring to an end the lives of hundreds of other birds, wild mammals and aquatic life. If the destruction of the rainforests in Southern America are any indication, the loss of the Hemlock in North America forests will have a negative impact on the delicate balance which makes life on earth possible not only for us, but for our future generations.