NASF Centennial Challenge

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The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) is excited to participate in the Centennial Challenge put forth by the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) in 2020. Below is the campaign announcement from NASF:

“The National Association of State Foresters is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020 with a Centennial Challenge campaign, honoring both the work of the association in providing a unified voice for state and private forestry in the United States since 1920, as well as the tremendous social, environmental, and economic contributions state forestry agencies have made nationwide for over a century’s time.

NASF will be spotlighting state forestry agencies and their work to complete 100-themed challenges regularly throughout the year-long campaign. Keep an eye out for your state’s Centennial Challenge celebration on social media with the hashtags #CentennialChallenge and #NASF100​ or by following the handle @stateforesters on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Come January 2020, you’ll start to see the nation’s 59 state and territorial forestry agencies’ challenges appearing on a Centennial Challenge interactive map online. In the meantime, for more information about state foresters and their work to conserve, protect, and enhance America’s forests, visit www.stateforesters.org.​”

For the challenge, VDOF has committed to treating 100 ash trees to protect them against emerald ash borer (EAB) — an invasive wood-boring beetle that’s pushing most native species of ash (Fraxinus) trees in Virginia to the brink of extinction. Learn more about EAB in these Storymaps.

VDOF’s EAB coordinator Meredith Bean says, “Treating ash trees to protect them from EAB is not always easy, particularly because they tend to grow naturally in wet environments. Our preferred method of chemical treatment is trunk injection of a systemic insecticide product with emamectin benzoate as the active ingredient. Direct injections into the trunk avoids effects on non-target species, unlike bark spray or soil drench treatments with neonicotinoid products. We will continue to treat high-value ash on an individual-tree basis and support landowners and organizations treating on private property through our cost-share program, with the goal to sustain the environmental, economic, and social benefits these trees provide.”

In 2020, we’ll share updates (on social media and here on the blog) about our progress toward our goal of treating 100 ash trees, and we’ll highlight several ash tree stories from across the state. Be sure to follow @stateforesters and @ForestryVA on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and check out #CentennialChallenge and #NASF100​ throughout the year to see how other agencies are responding to the challenge!

 

Virginia’s Capitol Tree Lighting, 2019

On the evening of December 5, State Forester Rob Farrell and Raina DeFonza (public information specialist) attended the Capitol Tree Lighting Ceremony in Richmond, Virginia with Helen Braunworth, Cindy Crickenberger and Wayne Crickenberger – donors of the Capitol tree. (Read for more details about the selection and harvest of this year’s Capitol tree.)

The weather was clear and cool for the evening event, and students from the orchestra at the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School provided the musical backdrop. The roughly 20-foot Colorado blue spruce stood tall between pillars in the portico at the Capitol Square and had been trimmed with multi-colored lights.

 

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Student orchestra from Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School provided music for the ceremony.
First Lady Pamela Northam gave the opening remarks, followed by Secretary Bettina Ring and Governor Ralph Northam, who both acknowledged the Braunworth/Crickenberger family for the donated tree.
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Left to right: Wayne Crickenberger, Helen Braunworth, Secretary Bettina Ring, Cindy Crickenberger, and State Forester Rob Farrell, standing in front of the Executive Mansion tree.
The tree lights turned on smoothly to the applause of attendees, and much of the crowd headed to the adjacent Executive Mansion to greet the Governor, observe the interior holiday decor and hear the student orchestra continue to play.

Virginia’s Capitol Christmas Tree, 2019

Each year, a live Virginia-grown tree is selected and harvested by the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) to serve as the Christmas tree on display at Virginia’s Capitol in Richmond. The annual Christmas trees are donated from tree farmers across state; this year, the tree selected was a roughly 20-foot Colorado blue spruce, donated by Helen Braunworth and Helen’s daughter and son-in-law Cindy and Wayne Crickenberger from Friendly Forest Farm – a certified Tree Farm in Augusta County. The tree is donated in honor of Helen and her late husband William “Bill” Braunworth.

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The roughly 20-foot Colorado blue spruce before harvest.

Trees have historically been donated from tree farms in different regions of the state, but finding the right tree usually comes down to the tree farmers working with their local forester. Patti Nylander is a senior area forester in VDOF’s Western Region. Patti has developed a close working relationship with the Braunworth/Crickenberger family, and when it came time to identify the 2019 tree, Patti reached out to Cindy and Wayne to tour their properties in search of the perfect specimen.

Chris Thomsen (regional forester) says it may be easy to underestimate the relationships between foresters and landowners, but foresters are an essential contact for tree farmers and forest landowners; foresters are key players in supporting forest economy and management in our commonwealth. It’s this relationship that gave Patti the access and knowledge to find the right tree on the Friendly Forest Farm property – a substantial Colorado blue spruce that was likely planted more than 20 years ago.

On November 25, a harvest team assembled on the Braunworth property in Augusta County. The team consisted of Patti Nylander, Chris Thomsen, Brad Carrico (deputy regional forester) and Cole Young (forest technician). Wayne Crickenberger was tasked with felling the tree, with his wife Cindy and the VDOF staff there for preparations and logistics.

The process of cutting, wrapping and transporting a tree of this size is no simple task; the team had to plan their approach and prepare supplies in advance. First, the team unfurled a tarp and cut baling rope that would be used to wrap the tree, similarly to how a Christmas tree would be baled before being loaded onto someone’s car, except this tree was 12 to 15 feet wide!

Next, Wayne used a chainsaw to clear away the dead, low branches on the spruce. Then two smaller trees that blocked access to the selected tree were removed. WHSV reporter John Hood was on site reporting on the tree harvest and was allowed to take the smaller “Christmas tree” to the WHSV office.

 

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John Hood posing with the small Christmas tree.

 

Wayne cut the tree, with Brad’s strategic guidance to ensure the tree fell appropriately onto the tarp and rope for baling. Once the tree was felled, the team worked quickly to wrap the tree.

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Wayne Crickenberger baling the tree.

 

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Patti Nylander (senior area forester) and Brad Carrico (deputy regional forester) baling the tree.

Wayne expertly navigated a tractor to carry the tree to the driveway, where VDOF’s flatbed truck was waiting. The tree was lifted and positioned on the truck bed and secured for the eventual long journey to Richmond.

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Wayne Crickenberger driving the tractor.
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Patti Nylander, Brad Carrico, Wayne Crickenberger and Cindy Crickenberger loading the tree onto the truck.

The tree will be housed in a garage at the Augusta Forestry Center in Crimora, Virginia, until December 2, when it will be delivered by flatbed to Richmond. Once it arrives there, a crew will lift the tree with a crane and set it in place on the portico at the Capitol building in preparation for a tree lighting ceremony with Governor Northam on December 5, which the Braunworth/Crickenberger family plans to attend. Stay tuned for photo updates!

Friendly Forest Farm is one of three tree farms owned by Helen Braunworth in Augusta County. Bill Braunworth was a dedicated tree farmer for more than 60 years; according to the family, Bill was responsible for hundreds of acres of planted trees and active forest and tree farm management in three states – New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Bill was recognized as a strong advocate for forest landowners and active forest management. He worked to demonstrate and facilitate sustainable forestry practices, soil conservation and water quality improvement on his own property and on public lands when the opportunity allowed.

Though the family no longer sells Christmas trees, the legacy of the farms stands strong; the properties are still treed with seedlings planted by Bill, and the family finds great importance in keeping the land in forest and out of development. Bill’s son-in-law Wayne believes he’d be delighted to know that a tree from his farm would stand at the Capitol.

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Wayne and Cindy Crickenberger.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), there are nearly 500 farms across Virginia where Christmas trees are grown. In fact, Virginia is the seventh leading state in terms of total Christmas trees harvested. The most common types of trees sold as Christmas trees in Virginia include balsam fir, Douglas fir, Fraser fir, noble fir, Scotch pine, Virginia pine and white pine. The Christmas tree industry is a strong contributor to our agricultural economy, with annual sales of Virginia Christmas trees around $10 million. This industry, built around important holiday traditions, is an opportunity to support Virginian agricultural businesses.

Real trees are also an opportunity to support sustainable business; Virginia-grown trees are renewable and recyclable (unlike artificial trees) and growers typically plant two to three seedlings for every tree that is cut.

VDACS says that the supply for real Christmas trees is a little tight this year, but no one needs to worry about walking away empty handed – there is a real Christmas tree for everyone in 2019.

Some of the information in this post was sourced from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and from personal correspondence from the Braunworth/Crickenberger family to VDOF and the media in November, 2019.

American Chestnut Harvest at Lesesne State Forest

Chestnut trees have all but disappeared from the landscape; the Virginia Department of Forestry recently had a rare opportunity to harvest pure American chestnut wood.


The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) maintains a chestnut research project at Lesesne State Forest in Nelson County, VA. American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was once a common deciduous tree in many eastern North American forests and was valued for its nuts, lumber products and firewood. However, the chestnut blight fungus (Endothia parasitica) introduced in the early 20th century spread throughout the natural range of chestnut, killing virtually all chestnut trees by mid-century.

Research conducted at sites like Lesesne State Forest contributes to the development of chestnut tree varieties that are genetically resistant to the blight; these resistant trees are developed through a complex backcrossing program in which American chestnut trees are crossed with Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima) which are resistant to the blight. Through backcrossing, research foresters are collectively developing chestnut trees that are 15/16th American in genetic makeup and also have high blight resistance. (Read more about American chestnut research from the American Chestnut Foundation.) Research shows promise, but success is still years away.

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Pictured: Bill Perry (area forester) and Charlie Becker (utilization and marketing manager)

On a portion of the research plots in the state forest, several small stands of pure American chestnut (Castanea dentata) exist; because of the blight that has impacted chestnut trees in North America, it is incredibly rare to find specimens that are 100% American chestnut and not a hybrid with Chinese chestnut. Other plots within the forest contain hybrid varieties of chestnut trees.

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Charlie Becker saws fallen chestnut logs. 

When several of the American chestnut trees started to die earlier this year, VDOF decided to harvest the lumber so as not to miss this rare opportunity to obtain pure chestnut wood. Charlie Becker (utilization & marketing manager) was motivated to ensure the trees will not go to waste. He said, “While some people may just see great firewood with these logs (which would be a fine use), we know there is a unique opportunity here for more research and special projects. You just don’t get the chance to harvest pure American chestnut now.”

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On October 29, a team of VDOF staff performed a harvest of three American chestnut trees and two different hybrid chestnut specimens and recovered several fallen logs of unknown hybridity. The harvest team consisted of Charlie Becker, Bill Perry (area forester) on the chainsaw and bulldozer, Joe Lehnen (utilization and marketing specialist) and Chris Cox (utilization project developer). Together, the team fell the trees, cut them into logs and labeled each specimen according to its plot of origin.

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Bill Perry saws the harvested logs. 

Bill Perry mused on the advancements in technology in the decades since American chestnuts had been regularly harvested. While the harvest crew this October relied on chainsaws and heavy equipment to harvest and sort the timber, harvest technology would likely have been more primitive the last time a substantial pure chestnut stand was harvested.

There are several chestnut restoration projects underway in Virginia; the October harvest contributes to research into viable markets for chestnut wood products, which may, in turn, support restoration efforts.

For one purpose, the harvest will contribute to ongoing, informal research about chestnut wood properties, durability and market viability; for example, it is useful to know if hybrid chestnut wood has similar decay resistance to pure American chestnut, such that it may be used for fence posts – a once important market for American chestnut wood product. The wood harvested may also be used in more formal research to identify and compare the structural and mechanical differences in the wood of pure versus hybrid chestnuts.

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Pictured: (left) Bill Perry, Charlie Becker and Joe Lehnen (utilization and marketing specialist); (right) Joe Lehnen and Chris Cox (utilization project developer)

Additionally, the harvest provided a source of wood for an upcoming workshop about log grading, lumber and wood drying, hosted at VDOF James W. Garner building in Charlottesville on November 7. Pre-registered workshop attendees will have the unique opportunity to participate in the milling of pure chestnut wood. Once the wood is milled into usable planks, Charlie Becker and the marketing and utilization team will identify appropriate uses or projects for the wood (in addition to research initiatives). Such projects may include educational demonstrations, wood type displays at the VDOF Headquarters or possibly even furniture built by local artisans.

Related Media:
NBC29: Virginia Sawyers Cutting American Chestnut Trees for First Time in Decades, November 11, 2019

 

Restoring Urban Canopy at the James W. Garner Building

On the morning of November 4, a crew of volunteers from Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards (CATS) and a University of Virginia chapter of Alpha Phi Omega (APO) worked with several Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) staff members to plant 16 trees on the VDOF campus front lawn.

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The driveway and the lawn are the first places that visitors see when arriving to the VDOF James W. Garner building in Charlottesville; these native trees welcome visitors to our building, so their care and maintenance are especially important.

Earlier this season, several unhealthy trees were removed from the front lawn; CATS helped source appropriate trees to restore the urban canopy on this part of the campus. Trees planted included one bitternut hickory (which was especially difficult to source), three sweetbay magnolia, two cucumber magnolia, two Kentucky coffeetree, two catalpa, two osage-orange and three redbuds.

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CATS has helped with tree plantings and care on the VDOF campus for many years, including assistance with two major plantings on campus during the past five years. One of the future goals for CATS is to help the VDOF campus gain a Level I arboretum designation, which will entail an inventory of the species on the VDOF property, labeling 25 woody plant species and developing a master plan to reach the minimum requirements for arboretum designation. VDOF staff will develop the plan, label the trees and provide the CATS crew with the necessary tools and information to conduct an inventory in the coming year.

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Some of the trees planted on campus (including some planted along the VDOF campus nature trail) already have QR codes that visitors can scan to get more information about the species.

Lara Johnson is appreciative of all the dedication and support from CATs –  from their assistance with tree planting, pruning and general care to their management of the new small-scale tree nursery at the VDOF headquarters. At this location, CATS grows seedlings sourced from the VDOF nurseries and later sells them at seasonal native plant sales.

VDOF staff look forward to watching the newly planted trees grow big and strong in the coming years. It is with the support of volunteer naturalist groups like CATS that VDOF can perform these special projects.

CATS offers trainings for new members each fall. They also host tree- and forest-related events throughout the year. Learn more about getting involved with CATS:

www. charlottesvilleareatreestewards.org/

 

First Mountain State Forest Dedication

On the afternoon of October 7, a crowd of more than 70 people gathered in Rockingham County for the dedication of Virginia’s newest state forest, First Mountain. First Mountain is the 25th state forest in Virginia and contributes more than 570 beautiful acres of forestland, open fields, and stream frontage to the state lands system.

Gary Heiser, State Forests Manager, selected an idyllic location on the property as a ceremony site. Near the heart of the property, the ceremony took place amid the fields of pine tree saplings, looking out to expansive views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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Speakers during the ceremony were state forester Rob Farrell, secretary of agriculture and forestry Bettina Ring, delegate Tony Wilt, and Governor Ralph Northam. Todd Dofflemyer, grandson of Alfred and Virginia Dofflemyer, spoke as a representative of the family from whom the property was purchased.

Attendees included family members, property neighbors, Department of Forestry personnel, and state representatives. Following the series of speakers, photo ops, and interviews, attendees enjoyed refreshments and delicious green-tinted cupcakes.


First Mountain History

Originally part of Boone’s Run Farm, the property had been in the Dofflemyer family for multiple generations spanning more than 100 years. Alfred and Virginia Dofflemyer of Albemarle County were the most recent owners of the property and managed the property as a working tree farm until 2007.

During the ceremony, Todd Dofflemyer recalled memories of his grandparents and time spent on “the farm,” as the family simply called it. Todd shared a funny story about his grandfather Alfred’s attempt to begin specifically farming Christmas trees, only to have his efforts thwarted by his brother who mistakenly mowed down all of the newly planted trees in a bid to be helpful around the farm.

Vintage Tree Farm Sign at FM

Todd became emotional during the ceremony and indicated how pleased his grandparents would be to know that the land would be conserved and well-used in perpetuity.

After the ceremony, Alfred and Virginia’s daughter Martha Dofflemyer Baugh Clarke and niece Naomi Meadows discussed the family legacy of the land; in their memory, stewardship of the land extended as far back as their Uncle Dewey, who owned the land for decades before Alfred purchased the property from his brother. It’s possible the land was in the family even longer.

Martha said that the transfer of the property to the Department of Forestry’s care was important to her because it fulfills her father’s dream for the property. Naomi reminisced about summers on the farm as a child, when the family cut hay and she was allowed to ride her cousins’ horses around the property. She, too, is pleased that Boone’s Run is now First Mountain State Forest, because, “there is just too much cement asphalt in this world … and this is too beautiful to have that happen to it.”

 First Mountain as a State Forest

First Mountain lies on the southeast slopes of First Mountain (for which it was named) in the southern portion of the Massanutten range, and encompasses 573 acres of hardwood and pine stands, as well as open fields and more than 21,700 feet of stream frontage.

The property is also adjacent to 583 contiguous acres of the George Washington National Forest, meaning that the conservation of this land contributes to the overall conservation of large-scale, contiguous forest habitat in Virginia.

As a state forest, First Mountain will be protected from future development and will be open to multiple uses for Virginia residents and visitors. The property will continue on, in part, as a tree farm, but will also be open to hiking and mountain biking, and will be selectively opened to timber harvest and hunting in the future.

State Forests in Virginia

In addition to dedicating the newest state forest, the event served as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the state forest system in Virginia.

Secretary Ring mused on the importance that forestland has played in her life, from childhood memories with her father through her career as a forester. Secretary Ring was pleased that the dedication of First Mountain State Forest was serving as our opportunity to celebrate the anniversary, because First Mountain has “a great name and a great story.”  “There’s no better way to celebrate the 100th anniversary than the dedication of a new one.”

During his remarks, Governor Northam called on the well-known children’s book, The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, to serve as an example for mindful stewardship of our forestland. Following the ceremony, Governor Northam further explained how the State Forest system contributes to his vision for conservation in Virginia.

In addition to protecting forestland, state forests like First Mountain play an important role in improving water quality from the mountains to the Chesapeake Bay. State Forester Rob Farrell previously said of First Mountain, “Water is what makes this place special. With more than 21,000 feet of stream frontage and 43,422 feet of vegetated buffers, First Mountain plays an important role in improving water quality, recreation and tourism opportunities and ultimately the health of the Chesapeake Bay.”

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Centipede-shaped Galleries, Made by a Beetle!

The southern pine beetle typically gets all the attention, but there are other native bark beetles in our forests that often go unnoticed. One such beetle is the hickory bark beetle, Scolytus quadrispinosus.

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Photo: Natasha Wright, Cook’s Pest Control, Bugwood.org

Adults are black, stout, and small – about 1/5 inch long. They fly to the tops of trees and feed on terminal growth, and then bore into the bark of trunks and branches to lay eggs. Females construct vertical egg galleries underneath the bark and deposit eggs  in small niches along either side of the gallery. When the eggs hatch, the larvae mine outwards, away from the main gallery, creating an engraving that resembles a centipede! This peculiar centipede-shaped design is easy to identify and a good indicator of a hickory bark beetle infestation.

The hickory bark beetle prefers hickory trees, although pecan and butternut are also listed as possible hosts. Beetles damage trees by creating galleries underneath the bark that may eventually girdle the tree. Foliage of infested trees will turn yellow, red, and finally brown as the tree succumbs. But not all hickories will die! The hickory bark beetle tends to only attack trees that are already stressed due to drought, fire, storm damage or disease. So keep your trees healthy with good cultural practices, such as thinning and irrigation, and you may never see signs of the hickory bark beetle.

Forest Health: A Small But Mighty Pest

The southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) (SPB) is a small, seemingly innocuous beetle that brings new meaning to the phrase “small but mighty.” These beetles are known as the most destructive native forest insect in the Southeastern United States. While a single adult beetle is only about 1/8 inch long, the ability to aggregate quickly means these tiny insects can overtake a pine tree’s defenses in a short period of time. All species of southern pine are targets for SPB but favorite hosts include loblolly, shortleaf, Virginia and pitch pine.SPBpic1

Females emerge first in the spring and fly to a suitable host where they bore into the tree and start creating their infamous “S”-shaped galleries in preparation for laying eggs after mating. Shortly after, they emit a pheromone (think seductive bug perfume) and the masses begin flocking to the suitable host tree. Each female is prolific with her egg production, producing upwards of 150 eggs over the course of her life! These eggs are laid in the galleries where the developing larvae then feed on the inner bark. As trees are killed or fill up with beetles, the outbreak spreads to neighboring trees and continues until suitable host material is no longer found or control measures are taken.SPBpic2

Historically, outbreaks of these destructive insects have been cyclical, occurring on average every five to seven years. Since they are native, they have a predator complex which helps control the populations and regulate outbreaks. However, since the early 2000s these outbreaks have been less common and almost non-existent here in Virginia. Many factors may contribute to the decrease in southern pine beetle abundance, including more intensive silvicultural practices, genetically improved trees and forest fragmentation.

The last big southern pine beetle occurrence noted in Virginia was first detected in 2012, and had become a full outbreak by 2014. This took place on Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The U.S. Forest Service observed the outbreak in 2016 from the air, and documented an average of 46 active SPB spots per thousand acres of host type. The average spot size calculated to be 1.5 acres. When a ground check was done, all spots visited had active adult, larvae and eggs, indicating that the population was still thriving. This area was hit particularly hard due to many factors: most of the pine was over-mature, overstocked and stressed from saltwater intrusion leading to a beetle buffet, ripe for the picking!

Unfortunately, no control efforts were enacted and the population continued to spread and the outbreak ultimately died out on its own. VDOF Forest Health staff flew the impacted area in October of 2018 and mapped 475 acres of pine mortality.

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To monitor populations and predict future beetle spots, each year VDOF Forest Health sets up traps that are baited with pheromones mimicking the ones produced by females and stressed trees throughout the state. Trapping starts in spring, around the time that beetles would start looking for suitable trees. Last year, we trapped in 10 counties, placing a total of 24 traps around the state. VDOF foresters and Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation employees sample each week and VDOF Forest Health sorts the contents, counting the number of SPB caught as well as their associated natural predator, the clerid beetle. The good news for Virginia is that our SPB population levels continue to persist at low and static levels! We will continue to monitor these insects and their activity (or lack thereof!) and trapping efforts are planned for spring of 2019.

Forest Health: A Winter Pest Survey

Each month, Field Notes will bring you news from our forest health team. We kick off 2019 with a focus on winter activities and the hemlock wooly adelgid.

What do forest entomologists do in the winter? We look for hemlock woolly adelgid! The Forest Health program staff at VDOF surveys for many forest pests throughout the year, but the hemlock woolly adelgid is unique in that it is most active and visible during late fall and winter months. This invasive insect has been killing hemlock trees in eastern North America since its introduction into the United States in the 1950s. The tiny adelgid insects crawl along hemlock branches in search of a suitable feeding site, and settle at the base of needles where they insert their piercing sucking mouthparts into the plant tissue. They feed on the tree’s nutrients and produce a white ovisac, or covering, around their body for protection. If you ever see small white “cotton balls” on your hemlock tree, you probably have hemlock woolly adelgid.

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Hemlock woolly adelgid ovisacs on eastern hemlock

Most hemlock trees in Virginia are found in the western region, but there is an isolated population of hemlock situated east of the species’ major range at James River State Park in Buckingham County. In December 2018, VDOF visited this stand to assess the health of the hemlock trees and monitor the hemlock woolly adelgid population. While many hemlocks near the river still look healthy, there has been significant decline of hemlock trees further upland. Overall stand health was rated “fair” in comparison to the “good” rating just two years ago. Surprisingly, however, hemlock woolly adeglid populations appear quite low. The winter of 2017/2018 saw some extremely low temperatures which may have reduced adelgid populations. Bad news for adelgids, but good news for hemlocks.

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Katlin Mooneyham, VDOF Forest Health Specialist, beat sheet sampling for L. nigrinus beetles

What kills adelgids beside cold weather? Beetles! Small predator beetles have been released as biological control of the hemlock woolly adelgid on federal and state lands throughout Virginia by various universities and federal agencies over the past decade. In 2005, Laricobius nigrinus beetles were released at James River State Park to control the hemlock woolly adelgid and hopefully preserve the population of hemlocks within the park. L. nigrinus is native to pacific northwestern North America and has been thoroughly screened and tested to ensure it is not a threat to non-target species. Since the release, the stand has been monitored to assess the population change of the beetles and the adelgid over time. The presence of L. nigrinus is determined by beat sheet sampling- a fun technique in which you shake a branch over a large white sheet attached to a cross frame and then identify all the beetles than fall from the branch onto the sheet. This sampling is done on dozens of hemlock trees and typically lasts about an hour. L. nigrinus beetles are very small and difficult to detect, but we found 6 adult beetles during our visit in December. These six beetles indicate the population of L. nigrinus is surviving and feeding on hemlock woolly adelgid which gives us a glimmer of hope for our hemlock trees.