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In Search of Parasitic Insects

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Geauga Park District is fortunate to be home to so many unique habitats. One is created by the Eastern hemlock tree, one of the few native evergreens found in Ohio. These typically grow in and around steep ravines, providing soil stabilization, shade to nearby streams, and habitat for a variety of species. You can find hemlock woodlands in your parks with visits to Big Creek Park, Whitlam Woods or Orchard Hills Park.

There is a problem, however. Our area is also now home to a non-native insect pest from Asia called the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA). This very small, parasitic insect attaches itself to the underside of the hemlock’s needle base and feeds on the tree’s carbohydrates. Because the HWA has no native predators, it can reproduce in such large numbers that it will eventually kill the tree.

To survey your parks for the presence of HWA, and prepare ways to deal with this potential threat, Geauga Park District’s Natural Resource Management team has organized a group of six volunteers that are surveying 11 Park District properties this winter.

“Eastern hemlock trees are also on many more acres of private property in the area,” said Land Steward Joel Firem, “and landowners should be on the lookout as well.”

If you have hemlock trees in your yard or in your woodlands, please take the time to inspect them. October through March is the best time to survey for the HWA. You can learn more about this pest, and how to help your trees and report your findings, at the Ohio Division of Forestry website at http://ohiodnr.gov/hwa.

For questions or help identifying the HWA, contact Firem directly at jfirem@geaugaparkdistrict.org or 440-279-0822. For more on Geauga Park District call 440-286-9516 or visit viawww.geaugaparkdistrict.org, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.

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