Hemlock Restoration at CMLC: Biological Control of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

Over the last decade, the exotic forest pest, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) has ravaged our southern Appalachian forests. Since the “arrival” of HWA in our area, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC) has been working to protect our native Eastern and Carolina hemlocks from this attack.

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is a destructive pest that gravely threatens the eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and the Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana). Accidentally introduced to North America from Japan, HWA was first found in the eastern United States near Richmond, Virginia in the early 1950s. The pest has now been established in eleven eastern states from Georgia to Massachusetts, causing widespread mortality of hemlock trees. As of 2015, 90% of the geographic range of eastern hemlock in North America has been impacted by HWA.

CMLC has taken a lead in initiating biological control efforts to protect both Eastern and Carolina hemlocks on conservation easement properties over a multi-county North Carolina area. Over the past 5 years, CMLC has released over 15,000 predator beetles on 40 different conservation properties.

Hemlock restoration is the process of restoring hemlocks and hemlock habitats to health and long-term recovery. The mechanism for this process is biological control of the invasive insect using a USDA-approved predator beetle (Sasajiscymnus tsugae, aka Sasi) that is the native HWA predator for this insect in its Japanese homeland.

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