Monday, July 13, 2009

The Decline of the Mighty Hemlocks

Everywhere in the mountains there was evidence of the decline of the hemlock trees. I have always thought that they are such attractive evergreen trees, especially when they get huge. Mountain vistas gave us a look at just how widespread the problem is. Dead and dying hemlocks were everywhere.

Dying Hemlock

The source of their death comes from a tiny insect called the hemlock woolly adelgid. Until this trip, I had no idea the insect existed, or that it was on a mission to kill all of the American hemlocks.

Below is the evidence that this little branch is infected with the bug. It is the tiny, white, fuzzy-looking material on the woody part near the center. Those are eggs.

Wooley Adelgid on Hemlock

There are even signs up about the problem.


While this sign indicates that the bug has only been in the south since 2001,  web-sites indicate it first was found in the forests of the American Northeast as early as the 1920’s after coming from Japan (where natural enemies and tree resistance have kept it from being a problem.)

It is sad to see all the damage that has already been done in a mere nine years.

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