This summer we here at the New York State Hemlock Initiative found ourselves in the midst of a nightmare. Hemlock woolly adelgid, the aphid-like insect that has been slowly sucking away at New York’s hemlock trees, was found in the Adirondacks. It’s not exactly breaking news anymore, but the impact of this finding is still being felt in New York’s northern counties as the fear of new infestations lingers. The town of Hague in Warren County is hosting a meeting tonight to discuss the implications of the Adirondack infestation found on Prospect Mountain near Lake George in late July. The article from the Sun Community News (link above) sums it up succinctly: early detection and rapid responses to new infestations are the keys to slowing the spread of HWA.
NYS Hemlock Initiative’s Mark Whitmore has been on the front lines of the battle against this pesky insect. Featured in the Sun’s article, he lays out the plan for fighting HWA with biocontrols. While early research has been promising, there is still a lot of work to do. Right now, the best thing people can do for their hemlocks is invest in short-term management strategies while looking to the future. Our biocontrol research lab here at Cornell University will be officially opening in November, allowing for continued research into long-term management of HWA statewide. While the news from the Adirondacks this summer came as a bitter surprise, we emphasize the importance of early detection and hope others will join us in keeping an eye out for HWA. By finding new infestations and swiftly implementing management solutions, we can continue to slow the spread of this invasive pest and help keep the legacy alive.