One tiny insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid, is to blame. The Asian insect first appeared in the eastern U.S. in Richmond, Va., in the 1950s. In 2003, it crossed the river from South Carolina and started feeding on Georgia trees.
The tiny pests suck up cells from the tree's needles, which prevent them from transferring water and conducting photosynthesis. The first obvious sign of an infestation is thinning foliage. Needles fall off, and the crown starts thinning. From a distance, trees look gray.
Researchers working to find ways to combat the adelgid have focused on releasing ladybird beetles, which eat adelgids. A new UGA study brings some of the logistical issues to light and offers hope for more successful control in the future. The results were published in the December issue of the Journal of Economic Entomology.
"Because the trees being attacked live mostly in remote forests where insecticide application is impractical, predators may be the best hope for tree survival," said Shimat Joseph, former UGA doctoral student who authored the journal article.
Previous studies have shown widely released predator beetles, Laricobius nigrinus and Sasajiscymnus tsugae, have been successful in controlling hemlock wooly adelgid populations, but they have not survived well through multiple seasons.
"Adelgid populations are not concentrated where we are releasing the predators," Joseph said. "Previous studies assumed populations are evenly distributed, but we are seeing that is not the case."
According to the study, adelgid populations tend to be more abundant in the upper crown, especially early in the infestation. This study suggests predator releases should focus in this area where higher densities are more likely. Up to this point, releases have been made in the lower third of the tree crown.
"Chemical control can slow the spread of adelgids, but beetles provide some hope that we will be able to manage the adelgids and bring them into balance. We may never be able to eliminate them," said Kris Braman, an entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and co-author of the paper.
The three-year study looked at the population rates of adelgids in hemlocks located in the Chattahoochee National Forest. The 60 north Georgia trees selected for the study were 25 to 70 years old.
Predator beetles are reared on infested hemlock branches in labs. When released, the branches, saturated with about 100 beetles, are tied to living trees where populations have been identified. Strategic placement of the predators is important for successful control of the adelgid-and for the bottom line.
"Because the beetles are so expensive to grow, every single little beetle is like releasing diamonds over the canopy," Braman said.
A cocktail of fertilizer and insecticide was applied to the trees included in the study to develop an application ratio that would maintain tree health while keeping enough adelgids alive to serve as sustainable food for the beetles but not enough to kill the tree.
"Part of the problem with maintaining predator beetles has to do with the declining tree health," said study co-author Jim Hanula, an entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service and adjunct faculty in the UGA department of entomology. "As tree health declines, adelgids produce fewer eggs and, in turn, less food for the predators."
Georgia trees decline faster than those found in northern states due to a lack of winter weather, which kills back adelgid populations in the North.
The full article is available online at http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1603/EC11022
Kris Braman | EurekAlert!
Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung
Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
19.01.2017 | Life Sciences
19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy