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Spring season brings back fight against invasive species threatening Michigan's hemlock trees


Experts say, Hemlock wooly adelgid spreading throughout Lakeshore's forests at alarming rate

Now that the Spring season is officially in West Michigan, environmental crews are once again defending the Lakeshore's hemlock trees that are under attack by the Hemlock woolly adelgid. (HWA)

Officials say, the tiny bug is an invasive forest pest that has infested Lake Harbour Park in Norton Shores and elsewhere, and if left unaddressed, will kill the trees within a decade.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Hemlock wooly adelgid, is hard to see with the naked eye, however, in the springtime, their white egg sacks are easier to spot on a hemlock tree's green needles; and crews in Norton Shores are working to treat 39 acres this season of the 200-acre park.

Drew Rayner works for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and is the West Michigan HWA Coordinator.

“Currently, HWA is located in five West Michigan counties: Allegan, Ottawa, Muskegon, Oceana and Mason,” Rayner said. “It sucks the sap from the hemlock’s needles and eventually will lead to tree mortality if not treated.”

Officials say, since the invasive insect made its way to Michigan around 7 years ago, HWA has quickly spread throughout the state, and threatens to wipe out Michigan's (estimated) 170 million eastern hemlock trees.

Several coordinated efforts are also taking place nearby at PJ Hoffmaster Park on the lakeshore as well.