2014-07-03 / Outdoors

MDARD quarantines to help fir trees

LANSING – The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development recently established a quarantine to protect the state’s nearly 14 million fir trees from balsam woolly adelgid, an exotic pest which has caused the death of millions of fir trees in North America.

Balsam woolly adelgid is a sap-feeding insect that attacks true fir trees, including balsam fir and Fraser fir. Repeated attacks by the pest weaken trees, cause twig gouting, kill branches, and eventually kills the tree. Small (less than 1/32nd of an inch) purplishblack adult BWA form white, waxy “wool,” that covers twigs, branches and stems of infested trees. Smaller, amber-colored crawlers hatch in mid-summer, which is when the risk of spreading the insect by wind and wildlife is highest.

“If BWA were to become established in Michigan it could cause severe losses across multiple industries, including timber products, Christmas trees, nursery stock and tourism. This quarantine is designed to help keep BWA from entering Michigan from areas where it has already become established,” said MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams.

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