By: The Working Forest Staff
|MICHIGAN DNR – The recent discovery of hemlock woolly adelgid as far north as Ludington State Park in Mason County is a reminder of the importance of checking hemlock trees for signs of the invasive insect.
The Michigan departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture and Rural Development encourage those who have eastern hemlock trees on their property to take time this winter to inspect the trees for signs of hemlock woolly adelgid. Anyone taking to the woods can help by looking for signs of the insect while hunting, hiking or enjoying any outdoor activities.
Winter is the optimum time to look for evidence of an infestation, according to Robert Miller, MDARD’s invasive species prevention and response specialist.
“Cooler temperatures trigger feeding activity,” Miller said. “As hemlock woolly adelgids feed, they secrete a white, waxy material that creates ovisacs. The presence of these small, round, white masses makes it possible to identify infested trees.”
Hemlock trees have small, papery cones and short needles that are dark green on top.
As they feed, these tiny, soft-bodied insects consume a hemlock’s stored nutrients, slowly sucking the life from the tree.
These insects are considered invasive because they are not native to the state and can cause significant harm to Michigan’s hemlock resource, estimated at 170 million trees.
Infestations of hemlock woolly adelgid have been confirmed in Allegan, Ottawa, Muskegon, Oceana and Mason counties, all bordering Lake Michigan.
Winter surveys underway
Your help is needed
Though dozens of crew members will assist in the surveys, they won’t be able to check all trees. If you have eastern hemlocks on your property, whether it’s within or beyond the 5-mile shoreline border, take some time to look for signs of hemlock woolly adelgid. Anyone spending time outdoors is encouraged to do the same.
In Michigan’s northern forests, hemlock trees are found in moist soils along streams and riverbanks and along coastal dunes. Hemlock also is popular as a landscape tree in parks and residential areas.
Round, white hemlock woolly adelgid ovisacs are found on the undersides of branches near the base of the needles.
Identify hemlock trees
Look for signs
Late fall through early spring is the best time to check hemlock trees. Look on the undersides of branches for evidence of round, white ovisacs near the base of the needles.
Up close, ovisacs look like balls of spun cotton and may appear alone or in clusters. The short video “Hemlock woolly adelgid: invasive species in Michigan” provides helpful identification tips.
Report your findings
Manage your trees
If you find hemlock woolly adelgids on your property, it is important to know that certain insecticides are successful in treating the infestation if used correctly. Without treatment, infested trees can die within four to 10 years. A qualified arborist, such as one certified by the International Society of Arboriculture, can diagnose and assist with treating infested trees.
If you are able to handle treatment on your own, follow the guidance provided in the MSU Extension Bulletin: “How to treat hemlock trees for hemlock woolly adelgid.”
Reporting infested trees, even if you will be managing them on your own, is important to help determine how far hemlock woolly adelgid has spread. This information also indicates where additional surveys may be needed.
Find more information
On Jan. 22, 2021, “Hemlock Rescue” is featured in the NotMISpecies webinar series. This free program will take a look at the labor-intensive effort to inventory and treat trees infested with hemlock woolly adelgid. A question and answer period will follow the presentation. Register for the webinar at Michigan.gov/EGLEEvents.
For more information on identification, reporting or treatment, visit the Michigan Invasive Species Program’s hemlock woolly adelgid page at Michigan.gov/HWA.
Michigan’s Invasive Species Program is cooperatively implemented by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.