The hemlock woolly adelgid, or HWA for short, is an invasive species native to East Asia. In its native range, populations are kept down and managed by natural predators. However, these predators do not exist in North America. Therefore, populations of this pest can do significant damage. The HWA specifically targets North American hemlocks. However, HWA are very small and often hard to see by an untrained eye.
Juvenile HWA search for suitable sites on the host tree, usually at the base of the needles. They insert their long mouthparts and begin feeding on the tree’s stored nutrients. This feeding disrupts the flow of nutrients to the trees’ twigs and needles. Tree health declines, and if not treated, trees will not last more than ten years.
Signs Of Infestation include white woolly masses formed on the underside of branches at the base of the needles. You may also notice branch dieback and Gray-tinted needles.
The hemlock woolly adelgid is very manageable if treated early and aggressively by a certified arborist. It is essential to kill all of these pests on a tree, or the population will reappear quickly. Additionally, monitor, all hemlocks in the affected area several times a year. Treatment should be reapplied to trees if evidence of reinfection occurs.
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