The Grounds

We are proud of our natural surrounding landscape and encourage you to take a walk around our property.

Q: I noticed colored tags on some of your trees.  Why is that?

A: Those are our treasured hemlock trees and the tags indicate methods of treatment.  Unfortunately, the hemlock trees in northeast Georgia (among other places) are dying at a rapid rate due to the infestation of a small aphid like bug named hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA).  HWA is non-native, invasive and has no predator in the Eastern U.S..  It sucks the sap of eastern and Carolina hemlocks and causes tree death in 3-6 years.   We highly recommend our hemlock survival specialist, 

Jann George at 706-318-4458.  He is available for education, consultation and treatment.  www.adelrid.org

Identification:  The woolly adelgid is a tiny insect approximately 1/16th of an inch long.  As it matures, it produces and covers itself and its eggs with a white, waxy filament.  It is most conspicuous from late fall to early summer when the “woolly” covering is primarily seen on the underside of the branches at the base of the newest growth.

Life Cycle:  The woolly adelgid completes two generations a year (winter and spring) and all are female and wingless.  Adults of the winter generation are capable of laying up to 300 eggs.  These eggs will begin to hatch in April producing crawlers which will move out in search of a suitable feeling locations.  They will settle at the base of a needle and insert a long feeding tube called a stylet and will remain there until maturity in late May or June.  If the tree health is very poor, a portion of the spring generation will form into winged adults that fly off in search of a spruce tree.  However, since no suitable species of spruce is found in North America, death is the result of the winged adelgids.  The spring generation of adults lay 20-75 eggs each, beginning the winter generation.  Crawlers hatch in in late June or early July and again disperse to new hemlock growth.  Nymphs go dormant for the summer and no wool is produced until early October when they begin to feed and produce the covering.  Once in motion

History of Spread:   HWA was accidentally introduced into Virginia in the 1950′s.  It is native to China, Japan and the Pacific Northwest of the United States.  It was first discovered in Georgia in 2003 in Rabun County and can now be found in almost all of Georgia.  It is dispersed by wind, birds and human activity and has spread at an alarming rate in recent years.

Damage:  All ages and sizes of hemlocks can be attacked by the HWA.  By feeding on the starch produced by the tree, new growth is inhibited.  Trees that have been infested for a couple of years will show visable signs of decline.  Unhealthy trees will appear a dull green to gray color, possess premature needle loss and exhibit branch die-back.  Tree mortality occurs 4-10 years after infestation.   Sadly, the declining trees are seen all around us in the Chattahoochee National Forest, particularly noticeable on FS 68 approaching the Bear Creek overlook.

Biological Control:   Because HWA is not native to the eastern U.S., few predators exist to limit it’s population growth.  Survival of the hemlock species is dependent on the establishment of biological agents to keep the HWA population in check.  Researchers are now releasing three kinds of predacious beetles which are mass reared in Georgia and surrounding states.  Research is ongoing.

Treatment options:   Because tree death from HWA is not sudden, it is recommended that treatment options only be used when HWA is present or known to be in your immediate area.  Chemical treatments are available but the best choice can only be recommended by a trained professional who will analyze all aspects related to the tree, soil conditions and time of year.  Soil injection is currently the most effective approach for treating HWA which is the method chosen for Mulberry Gap.

Source of information shared:  Georgia Forestry Commission, GaTrees.org, 1-800-GA-TREES

 

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