Tree Frog Forestry News

Aphid-munching beetle could help save hemlock forests

By Gabriel Popkin
Science Magazine
January 15, 2020
Category: Forestry
Region: US East, United States

A potential ally for one of North America’s most embattled trees has passed its first big test. A tiny predatory beetle that researchers have been rearing and releasing into forests appears to be doing damage to an aphidlike pest that poses a deadly threat to ecologically important eastern hemlock trees, a 5-year study has found. The result marks a rare success for forest scientists aiming to use introduced insects to battle pests, a strategy called biocontrol. Researchers caution that hemlocks are far from safe, however, because it is unlikely the beetle alone can defeat the pest. But the news “gives some cause for encouragement,” says Aaron Ellison, an ecologist at the Harvard Forest, who is not involved in the work. …Since the 1980s, however, hemlocks have come under an ever-widening assault from the hemlock woolly adelgid, a tiny insect native to Japan that sucks sugars from hemlock needles, killing trees.

Read More