Invasive Insect Management

It’s that time of year when HMN board members put together our Annual Report for the VMN state program coordinators. Among our lists of activities and volunteered hours over 2022, this project stands out for the combined 162 hours put in by two HMN volunteers. Thanks to Jean and Lincoln for providing this unique and valuable service!

Two Headwaters Master Naturalists, Lincoln Gray and Jean Stephens, work with a National Park Service professional to treat Ash trees for Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) and Hemlock trees for Hemlock Wooly Adelgids (HWA) in Shenandoah National Park. They are also assisted by two master naturalists from other chapters. Both treatments involve injections of insecticides (into the tree for EAB, soil for HWA).

Volunteers on this project were required to complete 20 hours of training and pass the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ exam to become a Certified Pesticide Applicator Technician.

The Shenandoah National Park Trust has also purchased some very small, but expensive, Laricobius nigrinus beetles from Virginia Tech that eat HWAs. The beetles are released in areas of the park which are near streams (where the insecticide cannot be used) or in hard to reach locations. HMNs have been involved in the release and monitoring of the beetles. HMNs also help monitor the health of ash and hemlock throughout the Park. Such monitoring indicates a significant difference between treated and untreated trees. The work is significant because without this integrative forest health management project, some predict that many or most of the ash and hemlock in the National Park will die, a major change in the landscape and biodiversity.

– Lincoln Gray, Cohort VI, and HMN Jean Stephens, December 2022

Photo on left above shows Lincoln working with a park forester in June 2021. Photo courtesy of Lincoln. | Photo on right is of the tiny Hemlock Wooly Adelgid-eating Laricobius beetles. “They are the tiny black dots on the excelsior.” Photo by Jean Stephens.