Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Found in Bennington County by Volunteer Forest Pest First Detector
Springfield, VT - The hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive insect from Asia that feeds on the sap of hemlock trees, has been detected, for the first time, in Bennington County. A volunteer Forest Pest First Detector found infested trees on municipal land in the town of Pownal. The insect is thought to have spread there naturally from nearby Massachusetts.
Hemlock woolly adelgids (pronounced a-del’-jids) were first discovered in southeastern Vermont forests in 2007. Until now, known infestations of the insect in Vermont have been restricted to Windham County, covering nine towns. The Pownal find is the most recent in a series of new detections in 2012. “Our monitoring studies indicate that the warm winter weather increased survival of this damaging pest”, says Jim Esden, Forest Protection Forester with the Vermont Dept of Forests, Parks, and Recreation.
The Forest Pest First Detector program trains volunteer leaders in communities throughout Vermont to increase the public’s awareness about the tree pests, assist government partners in responding to inquiries about suspect bugs, and help their communities prepare for and respond to a pest infestation. Michael Rosenthal, a retired high school teacher from New Jersey and amateur botanist, is the trained volunteer who found the adelgid in Bennington County. He took up the call to action because he has a strong interest in the natural environment. “I’ve seen the damage from the hemlock woolly adelgid when I lived in NJ. I would like to do what I can to help protect Vermont’s natural communities. I have a good knowledge of the land in my locality. I hike throughout the area several times a week.”
Hemlock is an important native component of Vermont’s forests and is valuable for both timber and wildlife and as a landscape ornamental. To protect this resource, the State of Vermont has a quarantine regulating movement of hemlock into Vermont from infested counties elsewhere. “It’s important not to move potentially infested trees and branches off-site,” says Tim Schmalz, plant pathologist with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets.
Under the State of Vermont Invasive Forest Pest Action Plan, hemlock woolly adelgid is managed to slow its spread to uninfested areas. Citizens who think they have seen the white woolly insect on hemlock twigs are asked to report their observation to a local office of the Dept of Forests, Parks, and Recreation.
More information about Hemlock Woolly Adelgid can be found at http://www.vtfpr.org/protection/forestpestsfrontpage.cfm , or by contacting Barbara Burns, Vermont Forest Health Program Manager, at 802-885-8821. More information on the Forest Pest First Detector program is at http://vtinvasives.org/tree-pests/first-detectors/program .