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Hemlock woolly adelgid management

An established population of hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) was detected in Nova Scotia in 2017, but to date is not known to be established elsewhere in Canada. Following is an overview of management approaches used to conserve hemlock in the US. As yet, there are no insecticides registered, or biological control agents permitted, for use for HWA in Canada. Both are used in the US, where HWA has long been established. An inter-agency technical advisory committee is tasked with assessing management options for HWA in Canada.

General resources:


Silvicultural approaches

There are currently no silvicultural guidelines for Canadian forests threatened by HWA. In general, silvicultural management designed to improve hemlock health shows promise - vigorous hemlock appear to be less vulnerable to HWA. Forest thinning is found to improve hemlock carbon balance and is associated with lower HWA abundance. There is evidence that leaf chemistry is associated with susceptibility to HWA. In particular, high nitrogen and potassium levels were associated with increased vulnerability to HWA, so nitrogen fertilizers are not recommended. There are a number of resources, listed below, that may be helpful in forest management planning.

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Biological control (US)

There are no know parasitoids of HWA, so work on HWA biocontrol in the US has largely focussed on prey-specific predators. Generalist fungi have shown promise in early lab trials, however, the non-target impacts of generalist fungi need to be considered. The search for predators has been conducted both in western North America and in Japan. Several predators have been identified for HWA control, and five species have been released to date (2018). However, results have been inconsistent and release of some species have since been discontinued. Two species of Laricobius beetles, L. nigrinus from western North America and L. osakensis from Japan show promise. On their own they are unlikely to provide HWA control; a broader suite of predators is needed. Leucopis, a silver fly native to western North America, may compliment predation by Laricobius beetles, and is being prepared for release.

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Chemical control (US)

In the US, insecticides are used for short-term protection of hemlock trees from HWA. Imidicloprid is most often used, sometimes in combination with Dinotefuran, providing up to seven years of protection; both are neonicotinoid insecticides. They are applied to individual trees by methods such as basal bark spray, tree injection, soil drench, soil injection or time-release soil tablets. There are currently no insecticides registered in Canada for use against HWA. Use of neonicotinoids in Canada is limited to stem injection because of environmental impacts including to pollinators. However, there is potential for azadiractin-based insecticides, also injectable, which are also currently registered for use for HWA in the US. The use of insecticides for HWA in Canada is currently being evaluated.

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Think you have found HWA?
Contact the CFIA Plant Health Surveillance Unit for assistance.


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