Meeting focuses on combating Hemlock-killing insects.

March 19, 2018

Meeting focuses on combating Hemlock-killing insects.


BENONA TOWNSHIP — Join the fight against an insect that can kill hemlock trees by attending a public information session Tuesday, March 20, at 6 p.m. at the Benona Township Hall, located at 7169 W. Baker Rd.

The meeting will focuses on reporting, surveying and controlling the hemlock woolly adelgid, a tiny sap-sucking insect that can kill hemlock trees.

Hundreds of landowners in Pentwater, Stony Lake, Montague, Whitehall and Ludington have received letters asking for permission to survey their property for the bugs, known as “HWA” for short.

“It’s important for people to fill out their permission forms for the survey because that is really going to allow us to figure out where HWA is on the landscape, and that is going to guide our control effort,” said Daria Gosztyla, Project Coordinator for the Ottawa Conservation District and West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area.

HWA has been identified in four west Michigan counties since 2015: Oceana, Muskegon, Ottawa and Allegan. The tiny insect, native to Japan, attaches to hemlock trees and feeds at the base of needles where they suck moisture and nutrients away from the tree. Land owners can identify HWA by looking for white, cottony masses about one-quarter the size of a cotton swab on the undersides of hemlock branches, as well as needle loss, gray-tinted foliage and branches dying back. It’s important to work to contain the insect, as Michigan is home to about 176 million hemlock trees.

If you own property in the risk area, you may have received a letter or postcard asking for survey permission on private land. Understanding where HWA is located and how much it has spread is important in determining a course of action to be taken for controlling the pest. Once a more complete map of HWA infestations has been created, officials can begin to prioritize areas for control, which will likely begin in late spring.

There is no cost to landowners for the survey, but landowners must grant permission. West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area and GEI Consulting are sub-recipients of a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant awarded to the West Michigan Regional Shoreline Development Commission. Survey efforts will continue with support from the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program.