INVADERS SMALL BUT LETHAL

A pair of invasive insects posing a deadly threat to our region’s forests will be the focus next weekend of two information programs sponsored by the Wayne-Lackawanna Forest Landowners Association.

Dr. Sarah Johnson, forest health specialist for the northern region of the state Bureau of Forestry's Forest Health Division, will provide up-to-the-minute information about the hemlock wooly adelgid and the emerald ash borer in a lecture presentation Sept. 15 at 6:30 p.m. in Honesdale, followed the next morning by a woods walk at a forest preserve in Thompson.

Friday evening’s program, entitled "Imminent Insect Threats," will include discussion of intervention strategies and recent control efforts aimed at the wooly adelgid at the Woodbourne Forest and Wildlife Preserve near Montrose.

During the two-hour walk through the hemlock-rich Thompson preserve Saturday morning, Dr. Johnson will focus on adelgid detection and control.

An aphid-like insect, the adelgid (Adelges tsugae) sucks the sap of hemlock trees, feeding at the base of the trees’ needles and cutting off their nutrients.

Without intervention, the trees can die within a few years of infestation. Called “wooly” for its egg sacs, which look like little balls of grayish wool, the adelgid originated in Japan and China and was first spotted in western North America in 1924.

Showing up in Virginia in the early 1950s, then spreading northward, the adelgid reached Pennsylvania no later than 1969 and our region in the last few years.

The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis), a beautiful little metallic green beetle from East Asia, was first spotted in the United States in Michigan in July 2002, apparently brought to this country by accident in the wood used for packing crates.

The beetle’s larvae tunnel beneath the bark of ash trees, destroying with deadly results the tissues that carry water up and down the trees’ trunks.

By the end of 2002, an estimated 5- to 7-million ash trees were dying or had succumbed to the borer in the region south of Detroit.

Since then, the emerald ash borer and the havoc it causes have spread eastward, reaching western Pennsylvania by June 2007 and our region four years later.

To date, controlling the pest has been difficult and costly, and the forests in our region could lose nearly every ash tree they have over the next few years.

Friday’s program, starting at 6:30 p.m., will be at the Park Street Complex, 648 Park Street (U.S. Route 6), Honesdale. (The complex is in a hollow just west of Wayne Memorial Hospital, on the opposite side of the road. A sign marks the driveway.)

Starting at 9:30 a.m., the Sept. 16th woods walk will be at the Florence Shelly Preserve, with participants meeting at the preserve's main parking lot on Pa. Route 171, between Thompson and Susquehanna.

Doctor Johnson will answer questions during the walk and afterwards in the preserve's parking lot.

If you plan to attend either session, please notify Doug Sheldon at 570-906-0913 or dougsheldon@gmail.com. The programs, both offered free of charge, are presented in partnership with The Friends of the Florence Shelly Preserve.