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Thursday, September 9, 2010 - 10:33am

Predatory Beetles Could Help Hemlocks

Updated: 4 years ago.
Diseased Hemlock being cut down in Georgia (photo courtesy UGA)

A native Georgia tree is being killed off by an insect from Japan, but researchers hope another one can stop it.

The Eastern Hemlock is often called the Redwood of the East. It’s native to North Georgia and could be crucial to the health of trout streams. Back in 2002 hemlocks started to die and researchers say the wooly adelgid is to blame.

Scott Griffin with the Georgia Forestry Commission says predator beetles from Japan, China and the United States that feed on the adelgid are being raised and released with some early success, but it’s very labor intensive.

“You’re talking about something the size of a poppy seed and you’ve got to feed them adelgids so you have to go to the field and get infested foliage to bring to feed to the insect.”

Griffin says there are pesticides that kill the adelgid but they are impractical for use in forests. He says you can tell a tree is infested if it stops growing and begins turning brown.

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