- Associated Press - Saturday, May 28, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Vt. (AP) - Vermont forestry officials say an invasive bug that breeds in massive numbers is threatening hemlocks in parts of Vermont and New Hampshire.

Officials say the hemlock woolly adelgid is tinier than a flea but has the potential to devastate forests of hemlocks.

There are infestations in Pownal, Vernon, Brattleboro, Townshend and Jamaica and in the southern portion of the Upper Valley, including Springfield, Vermont, and Charlestown, New Hampshire, the Valley News reports (https://bit.ly/1RAkmqJ.)

The insect was discovered in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 2000 and has spread to much of southern New Hampshire and into Belknap and Carroll counties.

The insect bores into hemlocks and feed on the trees’ starchy energy reserves, sapping the tree of energy and the strength to regenerate its needles.

Jim Edsen, a forester with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, said chemicals and a predatory beetle named Laricobius nigrinus may be able to stave or stem off the adelgid’s onslaught. Researchers at the University of Vermont are also working on other biological controls.

Brad Goedkoop, a tree warden in Hartford, Vermont, said the woolly adelgid has discouraged landscapers from using hemlocks.

“This is, in itself, tragic, because of the few true natives to our region, another is now subtracted due to an introduced pest,” Goedkoop said.

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Information from: Lebanon Valley News, https://www.vnews.com

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