Predator beetle released to combat woolly adelgid on Signal Mountain

"Save the Hemlocks" was established on Signal Mountain more than a year a half ago when residents noticed some of their trees were dying. Barbara Womack, Vice Chair Signal Mountain Tree Board said, "It looked like snow on the trees. It was just coated with white woolly egg cases. And we decided, ‘oh something needs to be done.’"

The white woolly substance on the trees turned out to be the woolly adelgid, so the Signal Mountain tree board and residents created a project that would release 1-thousand beetles at Rainbow Lake Trails to combat the small insect. The project is supported by donations and represents the first of its kind by a non governmental agency in the state. Womack said, "The biological control is the only long term hope we have for the hemlocks." The beetles come from Seattle, Washington and cost about 3 dollars each. Yuki Kajita, Beetle expert said, "So this beetle is a predatory insect, so it is going to eat this invasive pest hemlock woolly adelgid. This beetle is a winter insect, so they are very active during the cold winter, so this is the best timing right now to release beetles today."

Beetle experts say this will be a long term process. Kajita said, "Sometimes it hit or miss. Sometimes it works and sometimes, no. We need to continually release the beetle until the beetles establish themselves in the area." Womack said, "I’m hoping we can establish an insectary down at Rainbow Lake and keep introducing beetles to the area, and eventually we will begin to harvest these beetles from our area and put them in areas where they are needed."

If you would like to make a donation you can send monetary donations made out to the town of Signal Mountain with a note for the Hemlock Project. You can also email Barbara Womack for more information at bgwomack@epbfi.com

Categories: Local News

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