Be on the Lookout for HWA!
In partnership with the Upper Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council (UPRC&D) and the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program (MISGP), Wild Rivers Invasive Species Coalition has been conducting Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) surveys in Menominee County, MI.
Hemlock trees help maintain a healthy forest ecosystem and are an important resource for wildlife who rely on dense hemlock canopies for winter cover and food. With over 170 million hemlock trees in Michigan, HWA has the capacity to devastate our forests. These aphid-like insects have specialized mouthparts, which allow them to pierce the base of hemlock needles and suck out nutrients meant for the tree. Over a period of four to ten years, Hemlock trees will usually die from an HWA infestation.
While the threat has remained highest in the Eastern United States, HWA has started moving into the Midwest, with sightings reported in Southwest Michigan. There is concern that the insect may hitch a ride across the lake to the Upper Peninsula, so WRISC’s survey efforts have been targeting the Lake Michigan shoreline. If spotted in the Upper Peninsula, the spread would likely be slow, as studies show cold winter temperatures can increase HWA mortality.
So, if you are venturing outside this winter, stop and check some hemlock branches for HWA! Look for any small, white, cotton-like, ovisacs at the base of the needle. And as always, you can help prevent the spread of HWA and other invasive species by not moving firewood from place to place and keeping equipment and clothing free of seeds and outside debris.