Volunteers needed for hemlock tree monitoring

Over 30 volunteers are inspecting hemlock boughs for signs of hemlock woollly adelgid and reporting their findings to the State Department of Forests and Parks.

If you are interested in becoming a hemlock woolly adelgid monitor, please e-mail info(@)dummerstonconservation.com.

The Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation is asking the public to be on the look out for Hemlock Woolly Adelgid and report suspected sightings.  Hemlock trees are evergreens with flat, shiny green needles that are about ½ an inch long.  The most obvious sign of the insect are the white, woolly masses found on the underside of the twigs at the base of the needles.  The masses often resemble the tips of cotton swabs.  People are asked not to move suspected infestations, but to call

Concerned community members have been watching the northward advance of the wooly adelgid for many years.   Now we know for sure.  It is here in southern Vermont.   Hemlock trees infested with a potentially lethal insect  have been found in Brattleboro. Dozens of trees, some showing signs of decline, were discovered on steep, undeveloped land along the Connecticut River.  Other reports are coming in as well.

Right now the state does not have a firm plan for addressing this issue.  It needs more information.  That is where the volunteers come in.  Those of us who meander in the woods can select particular hemlock stands and check them several times a year, sending our findings to the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. At this evening session we can learn what it is we are looking for.

The size of a pinhead, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is a destructive, non-native insect that can kill hemlock trees by sucking nutrients from the twigs.

“We have been watching this pest for several years and anticipated that it might infest hemlock trees in Vermont,” said Jon Turmel, State Entomologist with the Agency of Agriculture. “The Agency of Agriculture will continue to work collaboratively with the Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation to identify infestations and do what we can to control and eradicate it.”

Control methods are limited and once infested, a tree can die within a few years. The adelgid lives on the underside of the hemlock twigs and protects itself with a woolly, white mass.

Introduced from China, the insect was noticed in Virginia in the 1950s and has spread to 16 states, causing widespread tree mortality and decline.  Vermont officials are concerned because native enemies have not stopped the spread.  Hemlock is highly valued as an ornamental tree and for its ecological value in the forest ecosystem, providing winter shelter for wildlife and shading streams.

Information follows.

If you are interested in becoming a monitor, please e-mail info(@)dummerstonconservation.com.

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Survey Form
Inspect 200 branches (39”), <20 branches/ tree.   Sketch location on map or on back. GPS in NAD83 Decimal degrees

Location Name            Town
Landowner &/or Site Information
Observer(s)        Hours
Team Leader        Leader Contact Info  Mary Ellen Copeland, info(@)dummerstonconservation.com.
GPS North        GPS West    Date
# of Branches Examined        # of Samples
Collected    HWA
% of Branches Examined on Planted (not Wild) Trees   Circle one                0-25%              25-50%           50-75%          75-100%

If HWA is present or suspected, fill out the information below.

Sample ID    Location description (may include GPS)

Send form and samples to:
Trish Hanson
Forest Protection Entomologist
Forest Biology Lab
103 South Main Street, Env./Ag. Lab. Bldg.
Waterbury, VT  05671-0409