HWA Hunters

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Surveying

HWA poses a threat to hemlock trees and the overall health of the forest ecosystem here in New York, but slowing the spread is possible. One crucial element of slowing HWA’s spread is the early detection of emerging infestations. If infestations are detected early, a rapid response can prevent local spread and keep nearby trees from becoming infested. If infestations have been present for several years, surveys help us understand how the infestations have progressed in New York and understand HWA population dynamics over time and find new biocontrol release sites. Surveying for HWA not only leads to informed and responsible HWA management and hemlock conservation. You can help by joining the HWA Hunters survey team.

The HWA Hunters program is ideal for volunteers interested in traveling to and hiking at their favorite sites to collect data from hemlock stands locally and regionally. HWA Hunters choose stands of hemlock to survey and report on HWA presence/absence, tree health, and site characteristics using our HWA Hunters survey form. If you have any questions about the HWA Hunters program, reach out to Charlotte Malmborg at cm933@cornell.edu.

Join the HWA Hunters team by signing up below:

Collecting HWA Survey Data

HWA Hunters choose specific HWA stands to survey and provide information about HWA presence or absence, tree health, site characteristics, and severity of present infestations in that stand. In addition to letting us know whether or not HWA is present, our survey form also asks HWA Hunters to describe characteristics of the stand itself to give us a more complete picture of forest health in the surveyed area. The data provided in our community science HWA surveys help us find new infestations, prompt local HWA management efforts, and identify potential sites for biocontrol release.

Conducting an HWA Survey

To survey, go to a place with good hemlock resources. This can be your favorite hiking spot, or just a stand on your own property. Surveys are conducted by checking trees for HWA by examining low branches or branches on the ground that have fallen from a stand’s canopy. It is best to check multiple low branches on each tree and branches that are all around the tree, rather than just facing in one direction. Following your survey, you’ll complete and submit our HWA Hunters Survey Form, either online using the link above, or using a hard copy version available below.

Online survey form for current HWA Hunters surveying volunteers:

Survey Date and Location
This includes the location of the trail or property where you are surveying, the stand’s location, the date that you surveyed, and information about the weather conditions during your survey.

Survey Information
This includes the approximate number of trees examined as you surveyed, and the amount of time that you spent surveying. We keep track of volunteer hours as part of our program grant requirements. Your data helps us support and maintain funding for our biocontrol research.

Stand Characteristics
This includes the approximate size of the stand, terrain and wetness of the site, presence of water features, the forest composition at the stand, the approximate age class of the trees being surveyed, and if you detected any other forest pests in the area.

HWA Information
This section of the survey will include the positive or negative HWA detection and—if HWA is present—will ask for information about the average density of HWA in the stand, and the health of the hemlock canopy.