MDARD Detects Invasive Insect in Washtenaw County
May 24, 2023
April O'Neil / news@WHMI.com
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) recently verified the detection of invasive hemlock woolly adelgid (pictured) at Nichols Arboretum in Washtenaw County.
This detection makes Washtenaw County the seventh county in Michigan to have a confirmed infestation.
“Our team of invasive species specialists is currently working with the arboretum to determine an appropriate treatment and response plan,” said Mike Philip, MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division Director. “There isn’t a way to determine how long hemlock woolly adelgid has been there or how it got there, but it’s possible HWA has been there for a number of years.”
Previously HWA detections have been found in Allegan, Benzie, Mason, Muskegon, Oceana, and Ottawa counties and have been within five miles of the Lake Michigan shoreline.
“Unlike western Michigan, where the other infestations are located, hemlock trees are not native to this region of the state,” added Philip. “Although the pest still poses a problem for homeowners who may have planted hemlock trees or where they may have been planted in other landscaping, this HWA detection does not pose a significant threat to Washtenaw’s natural resources and environment.”
Hemlock woolly adelgids are small insects that use their long, siphoning mouthparts to extract sap from hemlock trees. Their feeding weakens needles, shoots, and branches. Over time, tree growth slows, and trees take on a grayish-green appearance. Without treatment, infested trees die within four to 10 years.
Though the tiny insects don’t move far on their own, they can be blown by the wind or hitchhike on people, birds, or mammals that encounter an infested branch. In a similar way, cars, boats, or RVs parked under infested trees may be able to transport the insects to new locations.
Infestations are recognizable by the appearance of tiny "cotton balls" at the base of hemlock needles on the underside of the branch. Residents and park managers are encouraged to carefully examine their hemlock trees for hemlock woolly adelgid and if found, report it.
In early June, residential neighborhoods near the infestation will be visited to provide information on pest identification and reporting. Dates and locations of neighborhood visits will be posted via the provided link.