July 5, 2006 | By: Laura Skillman

In April, the hemlock woolly adelgid, an exotic small insect was found for the first time feeding on hemlock trees in Kentucky. Since then, more than 100 locations where hemlocks grow in Kentucky have been searched for the pest and only one site beyond the initial location has been found.

Fewer than 10 trees around the initial find in Harlan County have been determined to have the insects, said John Obrycki, chair of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture’s Department of Entomology and state entomologist. In addition, several trees at the Pine Mountain Settlement School were determined to be infested after review by UK and state forestry professionals.

“It appears that the infestation is still fairly localized,” he said. “I think we have a good sense that it is not widespread in this area of Harlan County.”

The exotic small, aphid-like insect uses its mouth parts to feed on hemlocks and has devastated hemlocks along the eastern seaboard. Kentucky officials hope their proactive approach of monitoring hemlocks, treating when necessary, and educating the public will enable them to maintain control of the insect.

To help Extension staff, forest professionals and homeowners alike, two meetings on the new pest are planned for July 18. A training meeting for Extension agents, division of forestry staff and others will be at 1 p.m. at the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Participants will be able to see the insects at this location. 

The second meeting for homeowners or anyone interested in learning more about the insect will be at 6:30 p.m. in the Harlan County Cooperative Extension Service office in Harlan.
Jeremy Williams, Harlan County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources, UK entomologists Lee Townsend, Lynne Rieske-Kinney and Tim McClure with the state forestry service will be conducting the meetings.

For more information on the meetings, contact Williams at 606-573-4464 or jnwillia@uky.edu. A new informational sheet on the pest by Townsend and Rieske-Kinney can be found here.


John Obrycki, 859-257-7450, Jeremy Williams, 606-573-4464