A familiar face was in Great Mountain Forest this month as Dr. Carole Cheah from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station returned with more insect soldiers in the fight against hemlock woolly adelgid. To refresh your memory from the August 2021 issue, hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is a small invasive insect that originally came from Asia. Scientists believe that it was America’s interest in Asian gardens that sparked the spread of the pest. They have tracked the origin to an infected Japanese hemlock that was brought over to the US in the 1950’s.
When the HWA are in the juvenile stage they move about and spread before spending the rest of their life on the same tree. They feed on the stored starches within the tree which, in turn, disrupts the flow of nutrients and eventually kills the beloved tree.
Great Mountain Forest is a particular hotspot for hemlocks as 40% of GMF is made up of them. Some of the hemlocks even reach over 350 years old. It is vital that we protect these trees as they offer important food and nesting sights for warblers and other birds.
However, GMF is putting its best foot forward to help our lovely hemlocks and maintain the diversity that we pride ourselves on. Since 2017, GMF has released several colonies (100 beetles per colony) into our forest. This year Dr. Carole Cheah brought over 3,000 ladybeetles (Sasajiscymnus Tsugae) and with help from the GMF team, placed the colonies in several areas throughout the forest.
Almost immediately we could see the beetles gravitate towards the white egg masses and, given time, those amazing little beetles should work from tree to tree and feast on those pesky invasives from Spring until Fall. They join the 200,000 other ladybeetles that have been released in Connecticut to date.
We would like to thank Dr. Carole Cheah and Tree-Savers for supplying and moving the beetles, which we are confident will have immense effects on the survivability of our hemlocks! We would also like thank the board members of the AKC fund for providing the resources needed to fund the purchase of the beetles.