A Good Week for Hemlocks: Treatments and Biocontrols

It was back in July when we first heard that hemlock woolly adelgid had been sighted in the Adirondacks. This news was concerning, since this area has the greatest concentration of hemlocks in the state. This week the DEC treated hemlocks at Prospect Mountain near Lake George and announced their intention to treat trees at Plotter Kill preserve in Rotterdam next week, welcome news after a summer of hard work surveying and planning by DEC officials, the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP), and their partners. The treatment applications were done by certified pesticide applicators who treated the affected trees and a radius around them. Hopefully these treatments will help limit the spread of HWA in the Adirondacks going forward. In the meantime, it is critical that we remain vigilant and report any sightings of HWA in New York.

While the treatments at Prospect Mountain and Plotter Kill preserve are great for the short-term management of HWA, here at Cornell the NYS Hemlock Initiative is beginning its experiments with biocontrol insects, a long-term management option. This week we received a shipment of Laricobius osakensis, a beetle that preys exclusively on hemlock woolly adelgid. Predators like this have the potential to help us control HWA with biocontrol rather than with insecticide, however there is a lot more research and bug-rearing to do before our insects are ready for widespread releases. While it is important to buy time with insecticide treatments in the short term, we are optimistic that biocontrol will lead to a successful long term management plan for HWA.

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