The hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), an invasive sap-sucking insect, is wreaking havoc across Georgia, and weíre now seeing many large hemlocks dead or dying in Rabun County. Given the rapid pace at which the problem is spreading and the awful damage thatís occurring, we urge you to take immediate action to save these magnificent trees.
As a first step, please inspect your hemlocks for signs of infestation. The symptoms include small white fuzzy egg sacs on the underside of the branches at the base of the needles, a drab gray-green color of the tree, and needles becoming sparse. The bad news is that infested hemlocks that are untreated typically die within five to seven years after infestation, and the pest has been in Rabun County since 2003.
The good news is that you can treat and save your trees, and itís an easy and inexpensive process, especially compared to the cost of taking down large dead trees and the potential loss of property value. With our mild climate, hemlock treatment can be done year-round except when the ground is frozen or water-logged, so this fall is a good time to do it. Donít wait until spring as the voracious insects feed all winter.
Most lightly to moderately infested hemlocks can be treated with a product containing 75% Imidacloprid that is best applied by soil drench or soil injection very close to the tree trunk. Itís a mild product containing the same active ingredient as in flea collars, is safe to use near waterways as it only travels about one foot from the application site, and provides residual protection averaging five years. Trees that are very large and/or heavily infested can be treated using a product sold as Safari. It costs more, but itís very effective and fast, usually controlling an infestation in 3 to 8 weeks.
If you are inclined and able, you can purchase the treatment product locally (buy generic whenever possible), borrow a soil injector for free, and treat your own trees. This is the most economical solution. If you need or prefer a professional to do the work, there are several qualified service providers in this area.
For information on places that sell the treatment products or lend soil injectors, easy-to-follow treatment instructions, or a list of qualified local professionals, call the Hemlock Help Line at 706-429-8010 or visit the Save Georgiaís Hemlocks web site: www.savegeorgiashemlocks.org. The Help Line can also connect you with local individuals called ďfacilitatorsĒ who have been trained by Save Georgiaís Hemlocks and are available to visit your property at no charge, inspect your trees, and share information about the hemlock problem and solutions.
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