Community Science

Using Community Science to Support Our Research 

The New York State Hemlock Initiative represents the efforts of scientists, natural resources professionals, and New Yorkers throughout the state, united in their love for hemlock trees and dedication to hemlock conservation. Our research relies on the data collected by community scientists to contribute to our larger scientific goals. Since our scope is statewide, we are supported by community scientists all over New York who help us find healthy and HWA-infested hemlock stands, assess tree health, understand the timing of important HWA life stages, and monitor for management success and biocontrol establishment.

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Collect Data, Anytime and Anywhere in New York

Hemlock and HWA Hunters
To understand the spread of hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) and know what areas may be at risk, we want to know where infestations are located.  You can help us by reporting your findings. For information on identifying hemlock trees and HWA you can use our Hemlock and HWA ID guide.

Tree Health Assessment Volunteers
Our tree health volunteers help us understand more about how HWA is affecting hemlock resources around the state and find locations for biocontrol releases. Use our tree health assessment form to assign hemlock stands a composite score for tree health and biocontrol release potential. Additionally, landowners may use our form to assess their own trees’ health and plan management efforts.

Pine Bark Adelgid (PBA) Scouts
Our biocontrol program is currently in need of samples of pine bark adeglid. PBA is a native forest pest of white pine trees, and is an alternative food source for Leucopis spp. silver flies, which we are studying as a viable biocontrol option for HWA management. You can help us by reporting any PBA findings. To do this, use our Report HWA Finding form, just be sure to specify that you have found a PBA sample.

HWA Boat Surveys

For boaters, anglers, and paddlers, it’s possible to scout for HWA when you’re on the water. Damage from HWA including pale, greyish foliage and dead or dying hemlock branches are easily spotted on shore. In the early summer, you can also detect HWA infestations if  you spot hemlocks with a lack of new, bright green shoots. You can hear more by reading about our boat survey on Skaneateles Lake.

Get Trained for our Biocontrol Community Science Programs
If you are interested in one of the following opportunities, please email

HWA Phenology Monitors
 is the study of the timing of and organism’s major life stages. Our HWA Phenology Monitors help us survey a particular location and record the timing of HWA’s major life stages at that location. This increases our understanding of HWA behavior and helps us plan biocontrol release at sites around New York State.

Biocontol Release Site Monitors
Once we release biocontrol insects in the field, we rely upon volunteers that are located near those sites to monitor for successful biocontrol establishment. We train biocontrol release monitors to visit release sites and monitor for HWA predator establishment during the fall season. Email us at to learn more. Please note that all of our release sites are located on publically-owned lands (DEC lands, State Parks, National Forests, etc.) and that our biocontrol bugs are not available for use on private lands at this time.

Opportunities for Landowners

Hemlock Hedge Insectary Host
We are currently searching for landowners around the state who have hemlock hedges on their properties that could be used as hedge insectaries to host colonies of biocontrol insects. The purposes of hedge insectaries are to expand our biocontrol breeding capabilities beyond the laboratory space of our biocontrol research facility and to provide local HWA-predator colonies for easy transport to wild release sites.

Please note that we require a site visit to your hedge to determine its suitability for our program. If you have a hemlock hedge and would like to see if it may be a good fit, please email us at, including a description and pictures if possible. While we cannot guarantee every hedge will become an insectary, we can add yours to our database for future reference.

Food Collection Sites
A critical part of our biocontrol program is maintaining a healthy lab colony of biocontrol insects. Our biocontrol bugs only eat hemlock woolly adelgid, so to maintain the lab colony we must provide food for these predators by harvesting HWA-infested hemlock branches throughout the year. We rely on landowners who generously allow us to harvest branches from hemlock trees on their properties for food resources. Do you have HWA-infested trees on your land and want to provide food for HWA predators? We are currently seeking landowners to help provide food for our biocontrol bugs. Email us at to learn how to get involved in our food collection program.