Hemlock wooly adelgid (pronounced uh-DEL-jid) has been spreading throughout the eastern U.S. since it was discovered in Virginia about sixty years ago. The tiny aphid-like organism sucks plant juices from the trees' needles, and where infestations are large, can quickly cause twig and branch die-back, and eventually tree death. The pest is moving our way, and has been found in nearby Windham County, VT.
Hemlock Wooly Adelgid
Photo: Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Archive, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Bugwood.org
In 2007, VT Forest, Parks & Recreation staffers trained more than a dozen down-county residents in identifying and surveying for hemlock wooly adelgid. The volunteers then assessed hemlocks in a couple of locations in the town of Bennington (birds help move the insects about, so trees near backyard bird feeders are vulnerable), the Walloomsac River at the state line, the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail, Searsburg Dam, Glastenbury Road, and Broad Brook in Pownal. The news was good: not an adelgid was found. Southwestern Vermont dodged a biological bullet for yet another year.
The program will continue in 2008.