Hemlock pests

The hemlock woolly adelgid is a destructive non-native insect that is steadily ravaging wild stands of hemlocks, with Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and Carolina hemlock (T. caroliniana) being the most susceptible. Like aphids, the adelgid sucks fluids from a tree, killing it within three to five years. Foresters predict an epidemic in proportion to the chestnut blight, which completely destroyed the American chestnut, and are experimenting with biological control using introduced predatory beetles. Ornamental hemlocks are vulnerable as well, and experts urge homeowners to inspect their trees carefully for this pest. A sure sign of infestation is cotton-like tufts (the insects' eggsacs) at the base of the needles. Horticultural oils or insecticidal soap are possible control options, but application must be carefully timed. Early detection is critical, and homeowners are encouraged to contact their Cooperative Extension agent immediately. Learn about treatment options at North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service and SaveOurHemlocks.org.

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