Everywhere you look in Asheville, the hemlock trees are trimmed with white fluff, more technically known as the hemlock woolly adelgid. The tiny, aphid-like insects suck the life out of their hosts and have spread through the region’s forests in recent years. While scientists search for ways to battle the horde, for now the only way to ensure survival of individual trees is to treat them one by one. The threat to mature hemlocks is so critical that Quality Forward, Asheville’s local clean-and-green group, is offering help to homeowners and property managers.
“We want to bring awareness to the epidemic affecting one of our most important Western North Carolina species,” says Robin Hanes, a QF board member.
Biltmore Estate Forester Bill Hasher, also on the board, has offered his services to treat trees that might have a chance of surviving.
Recently, Montford homeowner Katie Worthy accepted the offer of help and stood watch as Hascher injected the root system with a Bayer product called Merit. Following injection, weekly deep watering is critical for the treatment to have an effect.
“We need to wait l8 months or so before we see results of the treatment, so we have to be patient in treating these trees,” explains QF Executive Director Susan Roderick. “But they are worth the wait, since many of our hemlocks in the Asheville area are at least 50 years old and provide shade and habitat that is critical to the environment.” She adds, “It would be expensive and time consuming to remove the trees, so we might as well put the effort into treating them.” For more information or to recommend a tree that needs treatment, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 254-l776.