Sunday, June 2, 2013

Wooly in the spring time.

In the spring of 2004, one of my many duties was driving around south-eastern Pennsylvania spraying hemlocks for woolly adelgid. As PA passed through my rear view mirror in winter of 2007, I was relieved in the thought I'd never have to spray a tree or shrub again.

Fast forward to the spring of 2011. I'm in my first season as PHC Manager of Heartwood Tree Service in Charlotte North Carolina, and once again I find myself treating hemlocks for woolly adelgid.  Generally speaking, the greater Charlotte area isn't the best habitat for eastern hemlock.  Poorly-drained clay soils combined with the intense Southern summer heat is in contrast to the well-drained organic soil and cooler weather hemlocks are found inhabiting in the wild. 

This specific site was just outside the city limits, on the Eastern side of what barely passes for a mountain.  It was a prefect micro-climate, with blooming mountain laurels lending feel of being in the Appalachians.  As I ascended the hill past the gated entrance, a small grove of semi-mature hemlocks appeared before me.  The trees bore the all too familiar white fluffy signs of woolly adelgid nestled at the base of the needles.

There are many options for control of woolly adelgid.  Because of the number of trees and amount of area that needed to be treated, horticultural oil seemed the best option.  Horticultural oil is gentler on beneficial arthropods, and breaks down fast in the environment.  Soil or trunk applied systemics would've been time consuming and costly to apply.  The brand of hort oil used was also OMRI certified.

Two seasons of treatment, and almost 100% control had been reached.  Sometimes the simplest, and cheapest, treatment is the best course of action.  Though something to consider, pest pressure is low on this site

Treated hemlock with no adelgid.

Untreated with adult insects and nymphs creating woolly covering.