Emerald ash borer and hemlock woolly adelgid, both invasive species which attack native trees, have been found in the Allegheny National Forest.
“Emerald ash borer was found on the ANF on Friday, June 21,” said Forest Silviculturist Andrea Hille in an email obtained by the Times Observer. “It was found on River Road, along the Clarion River, (in) Millstone Township, Elk County.” The hemlock woolly adelgid were found in approximately the same place.
Emerald ash borers are small dark green beetles that kill ash species, including the valuable white ash.
“Ash comprises 3 percent of the total basal area of the ANF,” Hille explained, “and predominantly occurs as a minor component in mixed hardwood stands. Our strategy is to reduce ash basal area in forested stands that we are managing and to remove hazard trees as removal becomes necessary. We have also been collecting ash seed for long-term storage at the National Seed Storage Laboratory.”
She also said that detection of the emerald ash borer was a first in Elk County.
According to the National Park Service, the hemlock woolly adelgid “is an aphid-like insect that covers itself with a white, waxy “wool” which acts as a protective coating for the insect. Adelgid infestations are easily recognizable by the appearance of tiny “cotton balls” at the base of hemlock needles.”
Hille explained the ANF recently held a workshop after the adelgid was found in Cook Forest State Park. She said that maps were reviewed and specific areas for inspection were then determined. A local road crew, who attended the seminar, found the adelgid.
“Only one tree with adelgid on it (was found) down there,” Hille said. “(It is) a difficult insect to detect,” she explained as it lives in the crowns of the tree. The goal is to “better delineate how many trees are affected. The more people out there looking the better. (It’s) better that we know about it so we know how to try and respond.”
“We are working with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, Division of Forest Pest Management on evaluation for this detection,” Hille said.
“We have been working with the State and our partners at State and Private Forestry in Morgantown, WV to prepare,” ANF Public Affairs Specialist Kathy Mohney said of the discoveries. “We have staff in the field today (Wednesday) doing further monitoring and we are also awaiting official confirmation.”