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Professional Asheville Area Tree Care
6/16/08 - Arborist Seminar Presented at Biltmore Estate
The seminar “Conservation Arboriculture: Care of Veteran Trees” was presented at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville on June 16, 2008. The seminar was sponsored by the North Carolina Urban Forest Council. The speakers, Neville Fay and Phillip van Wassenaer, gave an informative presentation and hands on demonstration about assessing, caring for and preserving older trees. Click here to go to the North Carolina Urban Forest Council’s website for more information.
4/1/08 - “Saving Our Hemlock Trees” Article Published
An article written by WNC Arborist’s Mike Riley was published in the April 2008 issue of the Fairview Town Crier. You can read the article below:
 
Saving Our Hemlock Trees
Do your hemlock trees have white, snow-like growths on their needles? Are the tips of the branches losing their needles? Have you noticed that your hemlocks are not the deep green color they used to be? All of these changes are caused by the hemlock woolly adelgid, a tiny aphid-like insect that is destroying our beautiful hemlocks. The hemlock woolly adelgid (pronounced uh-del-jid) was introduced into the eastern US in 1951 through nursery stock imported from Japan. Since then, the adelgid has infested millions of trees from Maine to Georgia, including most of the hemlocks in western North Carolina.  
Hemlock woolly adelgid infests both eastern and Carolina hemlocks, and can kill a tree in as little as four years. So far, over 80% of the hemlocks in Shenandoah National Park have died, and the trees in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are experiencing the same destruction now. In fact, the largest eastern hemlocks in the world, located in the Cataloochee region of the Smokies, have already died. The loss of these trees will change whole forest ecosystems, affect trout populations by raising stream temperatures, and could potentially decrease tourism to the area. The hemlock woolly adelgid has been likened to the chestnut blight and the pine beetle in its destructiveness and vast effect it will have on our forests.
Hemlock woolly adelgid is so devastating because it reproduces quickly and has no natural predators on the east coast. Thousands of adelgids can infest a single tree. The adelgid has up to two reproductive cycles per year, and are parthenogenic, meaning that they are all females and do not need males to reproduce. In the spring, each adelgid finds a hemlock needle and settles down at the base. The adelgid inserts a long feeding tube, or stylet, into the needle. It begins sucking starch out of the needle, robbing the tree of its nutrients.  The adelgid then covers itself with a white, cottony wax to protect itself and its eggs. This white mass is what looks like snow on the branches of your hemlocks. The adelgid lays up to 300 eggs in the white mass, called an ovisac. The eggs hatch and become adelgid “crawlers” that seek out needles of their own to feed and lay eggs.  
   What Can I Do?
There are several ways to keep your trees healthy and beautiful. Right now, the most common treatment in Fairview and western North Carolina is soil injection. This treatment consists of injecting the insecticide imidacloprid (Merit) into the soil around the base of the tree. The chemical is then taken up and distributed throughout the tree, where it is ingested by the adelgid. Major advantages to this type of treatment are that one treatment can provide control for up to three years; there is no exposure to children and pets since the chemical is applied underground; and the treatment is relatively inexpensive and quick. Imidacloprid is toxic to aquatic organisms, so this treatment cannot be used near water, and it may affect soil organisms in the injection area.
Another method that uses imidacloprid is trunk injections. This treatment uses small plastic capsules that are inserted into the trunk of the tree. The tree takes up the chemical from the capsule, and the capsule is removed.  This treatment is only used for trees that are situated right next to a body of water (imidacloprid is toxic to aquatic organisms), or where the ground is too rocky for soil injections. This treatment is more expensive and time consuming than soil injection, and the insertion of each capsule causes a small wound in the trunk of the tree.
A third way to control hemlock woolly adelgid is by using an insecticidal soap spray. This is generally only used on dense hedges where the trunks can’t be easily accessed. These sprays are only effective if applied to every surface of the tree when the adelgid crawlers are unprotected, so timing is critical. Since there are two egg hatches per year, two applications of soap spray are needed per year for complete control. This method only kills by contact, and has no residual effect, so the treatment needs to be repeated every year. Insecticidal soap sprays can also harm aquatic organisms, so they cannot be used near water, and they will also kill any beneficial insects that happen to be near the tree at application time. Application cannot be performed on windy days because the spray can drift into unintended areas.
Predator beetles are another strategy for controlling hemlock woolly adelgid. These beetles seek out and feed on the adelgids and their eggs. There are three main species of predator beetles from Asia and the Pacific Northwest being introduced into our eastern forests. Predator beetles show very strong promise once populations build up enough to begin having a widespread effect on the adelgid. However, they do have several drawbacks. Predator beetles are expensive and are generally unavailable to the public. If you do purchase and release them, there is no guarantee that the beetles you paid for will stay on your trees and not fly to your neighbor’s trees. The population buildup will also take several years. If we rely exclusively on beetles for adelgid control now, our hemlocks will be dead by the time the beetle population grows large enough to have a major effect on the adelgid. Although putting chemicals into our environment is not ideal or sustainable, chemical controls need to be continued in the near future to buy enough time for predator beetle populations to grow large enough to be effective.
    Where Do I Start?
We need to act quickly if we want to save this beautiful resource. It is already too late in some areas. If your hemlocks are showing signs of infestation, or you are not sure, contact a certified arborist for help. An arborist can either treat your trees for you, or provide advice and a treatment plan for you to carry out yourself. Make sure the arborist has experience in treating hemlock woolly adelgid infestations and that they carry up-to-date liability insurance. Certified arborists can be found by entering your zip code at www.tcia.org or by clicking the “Find A Tree Care Service” button at www.treesaregood.com.
We can also make a difference in saving hemlocks on state and federal land. Write to your elected officials, the National Park Service, and both the NC and US Forest Services and let them know about the situation. Tell them it is important for them to encourage funding of hemlock preservation efforts to help save these beautiful trees.
 
Mike Riley is a certified arborist and owner of WNC Arborist located here in Fairview. He has been treating hemlocks in western North Carolina for 5 years. Mike can be reached at (828) 450-9298 or by visiting www.wncarborist.com.
3/17/08 - Unique Exhibit Aimed at Raising Awareness of Southern Forest Devastation
To raise awareness of the disturbing loss of our hemlocks, ten Charlotte photographers are contributing a single image of these beautiful trees to be presented in a unique exhibit titled “One”, The Beauty and Devastation of the Hemlock Trees. Proceeds of the show will go to the Vanishing Hemlocks documentary film (see below). Click here for more information on the exhibit.
10/20/07 - Filming for Hemlock Documentary Continues in Smokies
Filmmaker David Huff of Back 40 Films led a production crew into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to visit some of the largest hemlocks on earth and to document their destruction caused by the hemlock woolly adelgid for his film “The Vanishing Hemlock: A Race Against Time.” WNC Arborist’s Mike Riley assisted with the filming, hauling the camera up a large hemlock and helping the cameraman climb 100’ up into the tree for some shooting. Click here to go to the Back 40 Films site to see pictures from the shoot.
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