By Thomas Covino
There have been concerned inquires regarding this insect pest by some of our Fairfield Glade residents. As such, a committee has been formed to evaluate its extent, determine locations of prominence and develop an outline of information to determine a proper course of action.
Eastern hemlock evergreens are some of the largest and most common trees found throughout the Great Smoky Mountains. They play a vital ecological role in cooling mountain streams and providing a habitat for many other species. Their loss, especially in national parks, defaces its value to those who visit, resulting in an economic loss. Unfortunately, they are being attacked by a non-native insect called the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae). Without a successful intervention, the hemlock woolly adelgid will likely kill most of the hemlock trees in our parks, throughout common mountain areas and even on residential properties.
Adelgid infestations are easily recognizable by the appearance of tiny “cotton balls” at the base of hemlock needles. Currently, there are no confirmed sightings in Fairfield Glade. However, it is inevitable it will be coming our way sometime soon, so preparation is of the utmost importance. We do not need to panic, but remain vigilant and able to treat it at a moments notice.
There are proven ways to help control this invasive insect, however, timing is both critical and essential. Three proven methods to control woolly adelgid are spraying, soil drenching and trunk injection. Professional arborists, licensed to provide the service, are the most practical way to go. Your eyes can help us help you! “When you see something, say something.” Contact us to have our expert come out and examine your Hemlock trees. He’ll advise you of the best way to approach the initial control.
Although the woolly adelgid will forever alter hemlock forests of the Smokies, with continued funding, a dedicated staff, and committed partners such as you and I, there will still be a healthy patchwork of Hemlocks throughout our area and future visitors will still be able to marvel at the "Redwoods of the East."
We will be publishing a series of articles to inform and educate our residents of what to look for, where sightings are observed and who to contact. We are in the process of making this information available on the Fairfield Glade website.
Until our next article, read further on this topic in this article published on the TN Dept. of Agriculture website, “Hemlock Woolly Adelgid” http://www.tn.gov/agriculture/regulatory/hwa.shtml