Volunteers Needed to Help With the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Surveys
Vermont has been invaded by an insect called the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). This tiny insect is recognized by the white, fuzzy covering it hides under. This covering is rarely more than 1/16 of an inch in diameter and looks something like the end of a cotton swab attached to the underside of hemlock twigs. The covering, or ovisac, protects the adelgid and its eggs from predation and drying out. Hidden from view, adelgids feed on starch from the twigs, leading to decline and perhaps tree mortality. Hemlock trees are their only food and are threatened by this invasive insect.
Since the mild winter of 2011-2012, the infested area has expanded greatly. Hemlock woolly adelgid is known to be in Windham and Bennington County, but threatens hemlock throughout the state. The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation is trying to better delineate the infestation. Volunteers are needed to help look for HWA. Training is available. .
Of special importance, 5 surveys need to be done in each of the towns adjoining infested towns. As of November 2012 these include: Bennington,Stamford, Woodford, Whitingham, Wilmington, Dover, Stratton, Winhall, Londonderry, Windham, Chester, Rockingham, Westminster, Athens and Brookline. It would be wonderful if a people would volunteer, one for each town to coordinate the work. Assistance and support for a town coordinator is available. A Blitz of Dover is planned to do all 5 sites on March 9. Home-made chili lunch will be supplied. See Events below for details.
If you do look for HWA while you are out in the woods, whether you found it or not, please let us know where you looked and when by filling in the site tracking form. See links below.
SPRING TIME WARNING -
We still have another month or so of optimal viewing conditions. Once we get into April the ovisacs are still apparent, but we try to have most of our surveying done, because during that portion of the spring, the conditions for unintentionally spreading the adelgid intensify. The winter and spring generations overlap and all life stages are likely to be present, especially the eggs and crawlers, which have the best chance of spreading. We ask surveyors to be aware of this situation and to check your jackets and clothing and brush them off. I actually treat my outer clothing with a product that contains permetherin to kill any hitchhiking adelgids. It also protects from ticks and mosquitos. There are several brands available; they are designed to treat clothing, are safe to humans and last for several washings.
In addition to the needed survey work, volunteers can assist in several other important projects. Increasing public awareness is very important, especially in newly infested areas. Volunteers are needed to arrange presentations, set up public displays and educate groups that use the forest. Workshops for homeowners with infested trees can be offered to show people how to respond to HWA.
The Vermont Division of Forestry is starting a project to monitor the impact of HWA. Five study plots for this project need to be established this winter. Each plot would be a good one day project for one or two interested people.
Hemlock trees are an important part of Vermont’s forest ecosystem, providing ecological, economic and aesthetic values. Citizen monitors play a key role in the effort to protect the hemlock resource.
If you’re interested in being out in the woods and helping to keep the forest healthy, please contact Jim Esden for more information.
For more informationcontact:
Dept. of Forests, Parks & Rec.
100 Mineral Street, Suite 304
Springfield, VT 05156-3168
Work Phone: 802-885-8822