The hemlock woolly adelgid is well on its way to decimating hemlocks in the Southern Appalachians, taking out an important anchor tree from the forest ecosystem and popular evergreen in home landscapes. Hope is being placed in a predator beetle that eats the hemlock woolly adelgid.
Beetles raised at the new breeding lab will be used primarily in efforts to control the hemlock woolly adelgid infestation on hemlocks located in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia, which abuts the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau.
The hemlocks, among the oldest and most majestic trees in north Georgia, serve as a crucial component of the bio-system of the national forest, protecting stream banks and providing habitat for many small animals.
The new beetle-breeding lab in Georgia was made possible by a broad coalition of scientists, non-profit institutions and government agencies.
“Multiple partners and agencies willingly came together to make this a reality,” said Wayne Jenkins, executive director of Georgia ForestWatch, which coordinated the effort. “This now adds a key Georgia institution to the list of research universities in the Southeast working together to fight this fight.”