Laurel Mountain Borough learns about invasive insect
Following the monthly council meeting of Laurel Mountain Borough, foresters from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources gave a presentation with information on Hemlock woolly adelgid. The invasive aphid-like insects are killing hemlock trees throughout the east coast and Laurel Mountain Park is experiencing this problem.
Council president Joseph Griffith Jr. said the presentation was an opportunity to inform the council and residents, though the borough does not have a set plan for dealing with the problem at the present time.
“We have to talk to the residents and with the Laurel Mountain Park Association to see what we can do and how we should approach it. I wanted to get some information so we can plan what we can do and what we should do,” Griffith stated.
Forest Health Specialist David Schmidt from the Bureau of Forestry in Ebensburg said the adelgids attach themselves to the openings on the trees where needles have fallen and suck carbohydrates and other nutrients from the tree, leaving the tree malnourished and unable to grow.
Adelgids reproduce parthenogenetically, meaning without a mate, and Schmidt said often up to three insects would attach to a single new needle of a tree. As the populations of the insects grow, the tree cannot produce the necessary food to sustain the adelgids, and they die off. Then as the tree recovers, the insects return to feed again.
“It just continues this cycle,” Schmidt explained. “The problem is the hemlock never fully recovers. So after a certain number of these cycles, the health just keeps declining until you have a drought, or some root disease that gets in there and the tree just has no energy to fight this off, and it's over.”
Fallen hemlocks, Schmidt went on, open up areas that were formerly shady, which allows invasive plants to get a foothold in the new sunny spot. Local wildlife and invertebrates do not eat these foreign plants, because it disturbs the animals' digestion, allowing the invasive plants to further propagate.
Schmidt detailed a two-part process for treating the problem. The first is a chemical called Imidacloprid, which would be injected into the soil, and absorbed by the trees, which makes them toxic to the adelgids. This chemical lasts five years and is sold in stores like Lowes under the brand name Bayer Tree and Shrub Protect and Feed.
Schmidt explained that whoever applies the chemical must be trained to ensure the safety of that person, the trees and nearby residents.
“They have to be trained in the safe and proper use of the product, how it's used, how it's mixed and the proper personal protective equipment to wear, which is critical,” Schmidt said.
The second part of the treatment is in the use of the Laricobius nigrinus beetle, which eats the adelgids. Schmidt explained that the insects are still in the testing phase, but would be used in a quarantined condition to avoid any unwanted after-effects following the adelgid eradication.
“We don't want to bring in a problem,” Schmidt commented. “Everybody thinks we brought in those ladybird beetles that get all over everything, and we didn't. They are rough on the aphids, but they are a pain. We are real careful about what is brought and what we decide we want to actually begin doing experiments with.”
Griffith said the council would talk about the information presented and decide a plan of action after discussing with local residents and other park associations.
The next meeting is 7:30. Aug. 21 at the community center of Laurel Mountain Park.
Peter Turcik is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Laurel Mountain construction project bids opened
- Local woman trains leader dog
- Vets reflect on Canyon Heroes experience
- Ligonier Valley middle, high schools debut new equipment
- Juniata College students unearth artifacts, architectural remains at Fort Ligonier
- Wetlands, marshes inspire watershed’s art auction
- Bench dedicated to Ligonier couple
- Friendship Park logo contest opens
- ‘Liggy-Palooza’ honors fallen police officer and K-9 Blek