Bug Blog

Beetles Battle Hemlock Insect

Beetles Battle Hemlock Insect

The hemlock wood adelgid, or HWA, has been spreading through American forests, destroying hemlock forests throughout the eastern part of the country. The HWA have so far destroyed 95 percent of the hemlock trees in Shenandoah National Park alone. Officials have been using soil injections of insecticide injected into the tree roots to control the invasive pest so far, but the process is costly and labor intensive. The HWA originally come from Osaka, Japan, which is where officials have obtained a new species of predatory beetle to destroy the pest.

Officials are releasing the predatory beetle, which feeds exclusively on the HWA, as a form of biocontrol that will get rid of the need for the insecticide. In Japan the beetle is the primary predator of the HWA and the two species have co-evolved life cycles due to their shared home environment. This makes the beetle the ideal biocontrol to use on the HWA. Releasing the beetles will have no significant impact on the environment according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Have you noticed the destruction of hemlock trees? Do you think introducing this predatory beetle is a good solution?