State Tree Under Attack
2014- Tom Joseph
WARREN - What started as a chance sighting during a brush with nature last summer
has led to a deeper understanding that Pennsylvania's state tree is at major
risk. The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is a tiny bug that clamps onto hemlock trees
and can be moved from place to place by birds, human activity, and even the
Kirk Johnson, executive director, Friends of Allegheny Wilderness, made
the discovery in Warren County. Testing has since confirmed that what he saw
was, in fact, evidence of these destructive creatures.
says it was a development he feared for several years.
devastation is usually complete on most stands of hemlock trees. Once the
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is present in any given stand, you're looking at mortality
of hemlock trees upwards of 90 percent or more," Johnson warns.
is good and bad news associated with a solution to the infestation, he adds.
can take preventative action by treating individual, old-growth hemlock trees
with insecticide," he explains. "It will kill the insects and will
protect the tree for several years at a time."
news is that there is no landscape-scale treatment for the infestation, he
says, so the process is time-consuming and costly. That leaves the Forest
Service with a need to evaluate the extent of specific infestations and how
best to handle them.
says the insects do their damage by feeding at the base of the needles, which
is, in essence, where the tree stores its food reserves. Most recently, the
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid was found in Allegheny State Park in New York, offering
further evidence of its migration.
PHOTO: The tiny white pests are the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, which can
devastate entire stands of hemlock and are jeopardizing the health of
Pennsylvania's state tree. Photo credit: Nicholas Tonelli/Wikimedia
Commons via Keystone State News Connections