Biological Control Released At Martha Sundquist State Forest To Protect Hemlocks

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Predatory beetles that feed on hemlock woolly adelgids (HWA), an invasive pest killing swaths of hemlock trees from eastern Tennessee to the Cumberland Mountains, were released Tuesday at Martha Sundquist State Forest in Cocke County. The release was an effort by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry (TDF) to protect young eastern hemlock seedlings from the invasive exotic pest, which is responsible for killing many, if not most, of the mature hemlocks in the state forest.

“Martha Sundquist State Forest is a good site for these beetles to be released because there is a healthy population of HWA to sustain them,” said Douglas Godbee, TDF Forest Health Forester. “We will monitor these beetles over the next couple of years in hopes that they will reproduce, become an established population, and continue to prey on HWA in order to eventually control the HWA population.”

Native to Asia, the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) is a small, aphid-like insect that threatens the health and sustainability of eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) in the Eastern United States. It feeds at the base of the needles and can quickly populate all needles of a tree, sucking the sap and ultimately causing mortality within 3 to 10 years of infestation. The potential ecological impacts of this exotic pest are comparable to that of Dutch elm disease and chestnut blight. HWA was first reported in the U.S. in 1951 near Richmond, Va., and has since spread to 17 states, from Maine to Georgia. 

The predatory beetles, Laricobius nigrinus, are especially good at controlling HWA because its lifecycle syncs with HWA’s lifecycle, as the larvae feed exclusively on HWA eggs and can only complete their development on HWA eggs. They were reared by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture at the Lindsay Young Beneficial Insects Laboratory.

Since its detection in Tennessee in 2002, HWA has spread to 35 counties in East Tennessee and the Cumberland Plateau. On average, HWA has been spreading from east to west at roughly 15 to 20 miles per year. It is estimated to have been in Martha Sundquist State Forest since 2005.

“Martha Sundquist State Forest has a healthy population of younger hemlock trees but if left untreated, these trees will eventually become infested and die,” said Mr. Godbee.

HWA is spreading rapidly by storm winds and migratory birds, as well as “hitchhiking” on mammals and humans. Infested nursery stock can also transport the insect into new areas. Hemlock is not a highly valued timber species but provides invaluable ecological benefits to the forest such as habitat, stream temperature regulation, and stream bank stability. Loss of these benefits not only disrupts the delicate natural systems in the forest but also affect aesthetic and recreational benefits.

Agencies across Tennessee have joined together in the fight against the hemlock woolly adelgid and formed The Tennessee Hemlock Conservation Partnership. The group works to track the rate of spread of HWA across the state, collaborate on HWA treatment projects on public land, and educate the public about HWA. More information can be found at www.protecttnforests.org or contact the Division of Forestry, Forest Health at 615 837-5432

For more information about other programs and services of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture visit www.tn.gov/agriculture


Bike Chattanooga Partners With The Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon

The Chattanooga Bicycle Transit System will be the go-to method of transportation for runners, their families, and support teams at this year’s Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.   Bike Chattanooga and The Marathon Planning Committee will promote the transit system as a way for competitors and spectators to access the event. ... (click for more)

Lookout Wild Film Festival Returns To Chattanooga 5th Annual Festival Set For Jan. 19-22

Lookout Wild Film Festival films will take viewers racing through Alaska, kayaking over waterfalls in Mexico, hiking along the Appalachian Trail, crawling through Aztec ruins, mountain biking through militarized Eastern Europe, and even visiting a homemade island in Canada. The fifth annual LWFF, an outdoor adventure and conservation themed film festival, will take place Thursday, ... (click for more)

First Chattanooga Parking Study Since 2004 Gets Underway

The first comprehensive study of parking in downtown Chattanooga since 2004 is getting underway. The project  Is being led by the River City Company and CARTA in partnership with the city of Chattanooga. It is funded by the Lyndhurst and Benwood Foundations along with several downtown stakeholders including Erlanger Health System, UTC and Siskin Hospital. The study ... (click for more)

Cleveland To Get Bus Service To Chattanooga Under Federal Grant

Cleveland, Tn., will be getting bus service to Chattanooga under a federal grant. The city was notified recently that the Tennessee Department of Transportation selected its proposal for funding under the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program. Tanisha J. Hall, state long range planning division director, said, "The Cleveland-Chattanooga Commute ... (click for more)

Bikers Need To Have Licenses And Insurance - And Response

I am okay with Haslam’s idea of raising the gas tax and lowering the food tax.  But, I want to see a tax of bicycles since they have their own lanes now and they also have to be maintained. How much revenue would that bring in?  I would think if we have enough bike riders to have the lanes in the first place, there must be enough to generate some money for road improvements. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Where Is Central’s Auditorium?

I am surely one of the biggest proponents of high school athletics there is, especially after half a decade of being an eye witness to the vast array of lessons that are learned every day by anyone associated with sports. That said, I have watched the Hamilton County Commission waffle on a $500,000 track at Central High School with a certain curiosity because the same high school ... (click for more)