Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Agriculture

May 18, 2012

Invasive, destructive pest found in Indiana

Greensburg — A tree-killing invasive insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), was found for the first time in Indiana on a landscape tree in LaPorte County in mid-April.

Since its introduction to the Eastern United States in the mid-1920s, the HWA has infested about half the native range of Eastern hemlock. In certain areas of the Great Smoky Mountains, as many as 80 percent of the hemlocks have died due to infestation.

The finding of the tiny aphid-like insect, which destroys native hemlocks by feeding on the tree sap at the base of the needles, was confirmed by the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The insect was identified on a single hemlock as a result of a homeowner's report. The infested tree may have originated from a landscape planting in Michigan and been brought into Indiana about five years ago. Preliminary searches have revealed no other infested trees in the area, but an extensive survey is underway.

"Fortunately, this find occurred outside of the native range of hemlock trees in Indiana, which greatly increases our chances of preventing spread to them," said Phil Marshall, state entomologist for the DNR.

In Indiana, forests containing hemlocks are scattered throughout the west central and southern half of the state. Evergreen hemlock trees dot the steep slopes along Big Walnut Creek in Putnam County, relics of an earlier, cooler climate. The Nature Conservancy and the DNR Division of Nature Preserves own and manage over 2,000 acres along this creek to protect the hemlock trees, as well as the rest of the forested land.

"It's hard to imagine losing this species from Indiana's forests", said Chad Bladow, Director of Southern Indiana Stewardship. "There are already few places in the state where visitors can see hemlocks, and HWA could eliminate all of them." Other Indiana sites which are well-known for having eastern hemlock include Turkey Run State Park and Shades State Park in Parke County and Hemlock Cliffs in the Hoosier National Forest in Crawford County. Over the years, the Conservancy has acquired lands to help expand each of these sites.

HWA is easily spread by wind, movement on birds and mammals such as deer, but most rapidly as a hitchhiker on infested horticultural material. The best way to protect hemlocks in Indiana from HWA is to simply not buy or plant hemlocks.

"Purchasing plant materials from areas of known HWA infestation are very likely to provide the source of any potential infestation in Indiana," said Tom Swinford, regional ecologist for the DNR, noting that not every tree is inspected to guarantee it is not infected. "We should do everything we can to protect our unique and beautiful eastern Hemlock trees in Indiana. A visit to the Smoky Mountains shows just how sad and devastating this scourge can be."

"HWA will be very destructive if it reaches our native hemlocks, but the more people who become aware of the dangers of moving plant material and firewood over long distances, the better chance we have at protecting our forests," Marshall said.

The Conservancy works to prevent invasive species from taking hold in Indiana. "Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to invasive species," notes Ellen Jacquart, Director of Northern Indiana Stewardship and coordinator for Invasive species issues for the Conservancy in Indiana. "Don't buy hemlock for landscaping Ð choose another native tree instead, and help make sure our native hemlock stands survive."

Named for the cottony covering over its body, HWA somewhat resembles a cotton swab attached to the underside of young hemlock twigs. Within two years, its feeding causes graying and thinning of needles. Highly infested trees will stop putting on new growth, and major branches die, beginning in the lower part of the tree. Eventually the whole tree is killed.

If you suspect an HWA infestation, call the Indiana DNR Invasive Species Hotline at 1-866-NO-EXOTIC.

 

1
Text Only
Agriculture
  • Central Indiana farmland sells for $7.9M in auction MUNCIE - Tuesday's auction of approximately 833 acres of productive tillable farmland near Muncie drew a capacity crowd and resulted in the sale to an investor for $7.9 million, according to Schrader Real Estate and Auction Company, which marketed th

    April 11, 2014

  • Seminar to discuss quality forages, meat for producers WEST LAFAYETTE - Forage and livestock producers who want to learn about the role forage quality plays in meat quality can attend the Indiana Forage Council seminar. This year's seminar, Quality Forage-Quality Meat, will be held in conjunction with th

    April 11, 2014

  • AG-gb041114-Ag Day Fair pic 3- page 10 Ag Day planting seeds for future success

    GREENSBURG - The chill in the air didn't stop the fourth grade students of Decatur County from enjoying the 21st annual Ag Day Fair at the Decatur County Fairgrounds on Tuesday. More than 400 students, teachers and chaperones arrived at the fairgroun

    April 11, 2014 4 Photos

  • Indiana's USDA FSA announces sign-up date for disaster assistance INDIANAPOLIS - U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director Julia A. Wickard announced today that farmers can sign-up for disaster assistance programs, reestablished and strengthened by the 2014 Farm Bill,

    April 11, 2014

  • Survey: Grocery prices decrease statewide INDIANAPOLIS - Grocery prices are down slightly from a year ago and remain almost unchanged from last fall, according to Indiana Farm Bureau's semi-annual "market basket" survey. The average price on the 16 food items included in the informal survey

    April 11, 2014

  • ag-gb040414-Winter Market pic- page 4 Final date for Winter Farmers’ Market GREENSBURG - The last Decatur County Winter Farmers' Market will be from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 12, at the City Hall gymnasium. "We have extended out typical season to last an extra month because, well, why not?" said Sarah Robinson of

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • ag-gb040414-DNR release pic- page 2 How to help injured or orphaned animals How to help injured or orphaned animals

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • ag-gb040414-April Garden Calendar jpg April Garden Calendar APRIL HOME (Indoor plants and activities) Start seeds of warm-season plants, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, marigolds, zinnias and petunias, indoors for transplanting later to the garden. Harden off transplants started earlier in spring befor

    April 4, 2014 2 Photos

  • Ag Secretary announces increased opportunity for producers WASHINGTON -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced earlier this week an increased opportunity for producers as a result of the 2014 Farm Bill. A fact sheet outlining modifications to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Ag

    March 28, 2014

  • FSA celebrates National Ag Day INDIANAPOLIS - Julia A. Wickard, state executive director for USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) encourages everyone to take a moment to appreciate Indiana's hard working farmers on March 25, National Ag Day. This year's theme is "Agriculture: 365 Sun

    March 22, 2014