Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

The tiny bug that’s a giant threat

1) This is an immediate crisis. We have just a few remaining years to intervene.

2) OWLA is focused on just the hemlocks critical to assuring clean water. Thousands of other hemlocks will be lost unless private owners take action NOW.

3) OWLA’s efforts are limited by resources: Donate!

New York State Hemlock Initiative

You can find more infomation at the New York State Hemlock Initiative’s site. This is the definitive website for everything about hemlocks and HWA. 

If we lose the hemlocks, we lose the lake!

As some of you may know from trees on or near where you live, the hemlock trees in this region are becoming sick. The cause is an invasive foreign insect called the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA). This bug is tiny, about the size of an aphid, but in large numbers, they kill their hemlock host. This pest is spreading north throughout the east coast hemlock forests, and we now know that HWA is established in the hemlocks that guard the Owasco Lake watershed.

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA)

The loss of hemlock trees will be devastating to water quality.   Hemlocks are the third most common tree in our area and make up much of the forest along shorelines, gorges and streams.  Their shallow, branching root systems allow them to grow in steep terrain which helps protect against erosion and also filter out nutrients in runoff.   Their shade also helps cool the water temperatures which is beneficial to fish and a deterrent to harmful algal blooms.

Can anything be done to at least slow the onslaught?

The answer is yes. The researchers at Cornell have found that HWA in the hemlocks of Oregon and Washington State are held in biological check by several types of insects, bugs who like to feed on the hemlock woolly adelgid. They have determined that importing those predators into the east coast hemlocks has no undesirable impact. In the longer term (ten years or more), the plan is to build up the predator insects populations on our side of the continent to achieve a biological balance with the HWA. In the nearer term however, our only defense is targeted application of insecticide, sprayed by qualified professionals on the lower trunk or injected into the tree trunk. A single treatment lasts five or more years. We hope that property owners with hemlocks critical to the protection of Owasco Lake as a public drinking water source will desire to make a private/public funding partnership with us. 

Spring treatment is critical!

Hemlock trees can be treated for HWA only during the months when water is being drawn from the ground “sap is rising”. The spring treatment season for 2022 is starting right now (late March) and will continue until mid-June. The trees go dormant during the summer. From mid-September until mid-November, hemlocks are again pulling water up and so insecticide can be applied then too.

1) This is an immediate crisis. We have just a few remaining years to intervene.

2) OWLA is focused on just the hemlocks critical to assuring clean water. Thousands of other hemlocks will be lost unless private owners take action NOW.

3) OWLA’s efforts are limited by resources: Donate!

 Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Facts: 

What can you do to HELP?

Protecting Owasco Lake is essential to the maintenance of our community character and the improvement of our economic future. We encourage everyone to help the Owasco Watershed Lake Association personally and/or financially. By this commitment you will help keep Owasco Lake clean and safe.