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HWA Survey Season

Posted on Nov 16, 2015

Once again it’s that time of year to brave the cold for conservation sake! That’s right, the season for surveying Eastern Hemlock trees (Tsuga canadensis) for the presence of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae) has officially begun.

Hemlock woolly adelgid HWA winter eastern hemlock-0302-2

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

Commonly referred to as HWA, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is an aphid-like invasive insect that specifically attacks species within the Tsuga genus. Within the United States, four species of hemlock exist: Western and Mountain hemlock in the Pacific Northwest and Eastern and Carolina hemlock throughout the east. Each of these species are fair game for HWA; however, the western and mountain hemlocks do not appear to be as susceptible to the invasive adelgid as eastern species are.

Hemlock Area

This is how a forest with hemlocks is supposed to look. Healthy, dark green needles on each tree.

Dying Eastern Hemlock trees-0299

This is how a forest looks after HWA has come through. In Connecticut and other states in the Northeast, hemlock forests have been significantly impacted by HWA.

Over the past several decades, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid has been marching northward and in more recent years has increasingly made its way across Western New York. Letchworth State Park, Allegany State Park, Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area and the Fredonia campus woodlot has had confirmed sightings of the invasive bug. While these all seem to be isolated areas, far apart from one another, HWA has an uncanny knack for being moved around easily and silently. Research has found that the insects themselves can’t go terribly far, but they can easily be transported distances by humans, birds, and wind.

Are the birds to blame?

Are the birds to blame?

Although we can’t stop the wind from whipping through the hemlock boughs or keep birds from landing amongst their branches, we can take some precautions to reduce the chances of an HWA infestation. Through early detection surveys, we can determine where HWA is hiding and take the next steps needed to remove it and protect surrounding trees.

Hatch Run Survey

We could use some help with our surveys! Its easy work, gets you outside, and we typically bring hot chocolate with as a treat for helping!

This upcoming winter season we will once again be leading various trainings and carrying out a number of surveys in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, Nature Conservancy, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy and Jamestown Community College. Our tentative survey dates are as follows:

  • January 9th: CWC’s Elm Flats Preserve
  • January 15th: CWC’s Dobbin’s Woods Preserve
  • January 23rd: CWC’s Cassadaga Creek Preserve
  • February 5th: South Valley State Forest
  • February 12th: Hatch Run Conservation Demonstration Area
  • February 19th: JCC/RTPI Preserves
  • February 26th: Chautauqua Gorge State Forest

Please consider joining us in the field this winter and remember to bring your snowshoes! Once we get a little closer to these dates, we will share more information and details, so keep an eye on our website and social media outlets for updates.

In addition, we will again be putting up our bright yellow “Help Me” signs, created through a joint project with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County. If you like to hike or snowmobile in certain areas and want to augment our survey efforts, you can use the signs to report any possible sightings of HWA. We will soon announce where the signs will be located and provide information on how to report.

Help Me Signs copy

Stay tuned as there is a lot of work ahead this upcoming winter season, all of which your help will be greatly appreciated!

Elyse Henshaw
Conservation Technician