Cold weather keeping hemlock trees safe from pest

The hemlock trees in Fredericton's Odell Park can thank Mother Nature for this year's cold weather.

The hemlock trees in Fredericton's Odell Park can thank Mother Nature for this year's cold weather.

It's keeping away a pest that feeds on the park's trees.

The hemlock woolly adelgid is eating its way up the Eastern United States and has beenspotted as close as southern Maine. The only things known to kill off an adelgid infestation are heavy rains and freezing temperatures.

The city's forester said there is nothing to worry about just yet.

But that doesn't mean he won't be keeping an eye on the pests.

"We are in touch with Canada Forest Service individuals on a regular basis so this is a question I will be asking them in the January meeting: Is the hemlock woolly adelgid something we should be concerned about and start talking about control measures if necessary?" said Don Murray.

The fluffy white insect kills hemlocks by feeding off the tree's nutrients.

"They feed like aphids, a long stylet that they stick into the tissue. It causes needle drop, then branch death, then the top of the tree often dies," said Dan Quiring, an forest entomologist at UNB.

Because they are sensitive to cold weather, the insect's progress north has been slow, said Quiring.

With this year's cool temperatures, it's unlikely the woolly adelgid will make an appearance anytime soon, he said.

The hemlock woolly adelgid isresponsible for 50 to 100per cent mortality of hemlock trees in parts of the Eastern United States.