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Hemlock Woolly invades Mill Creek

Discovery of insect may ward off infestation

YOUNGSTOWN — A discovery in Mill Creek Park made during a November hike could prevent a loss of evergreen trees.

A member of the Nature Conservancy was walking along the Slippery Rock Trail toward the northern portion of the park when he randomly decided to stop and check an eastern hemlock tree for an invasive species, said Nickolas Derico, natural resources steward for the park.

That hiker found the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, Derico said.

The sap-ingesting insect is native to east Asia and first came to the eastern United States in 1951 in Richmond, Va., Derico said.

From there, it has slowly spread along the entire eastern seaboard, stretching from Maine to Georgia and going as far west as Wisconsin.

The insect was discovered in Ohio in 2012, in Meigs County, and has largely stayed in the southern part of the state, Derico said, but slowly began creeping to Geauga County and now Mahoning County.

To combat the spread of the invasive species, a ban on moving infected trees is typically put in place, Derico said.

There are insecticide treatments available, but if left untreated, “it can be fairly devastating,” as much of the north end of the park contains the Eastern Hemlock, Derico said.

It takes about five to eight years for a tree infested with the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid to die. Although there is time to develop an approach on saving the trees, Derico said plans will begin soon.

Survey work will be completed to obtain more information, specifically where else the insect is located throughout the park, if at all.

The park will work with the Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry anad the Nature Conservancy in the winter months to collect data and look at other trees.

Then, a management plan and treatment options will be discussed, as well as funding, Derico said.

The insect doesn’t have a predator yet, Derico said, which is why the insecticide treatment would be selected.

afox@tribtoday.com

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