Consumers be aware of unsuspecting insects in Christmas trees

NOTE: If you buy a real Christmas tree, you should also look for invasive pests such as hemlock woolly adelgid, balsam woolly adelgid, and pine bark beetles.

by Blair Fannin, Texas A&M AgriLife

This holiday season, consumers should be aware of unwanted critters that may find their way into homes clinging to a freshly cut Christmas tree,  said a Texas A&M University entomologist.

Dr. David Ragsdale, head of the university’s entomology department in College Station, said it’s not uncommon for insects to sometimes make their way into homes after a tree has been purchased from a tree farm or retailer. Continue reading

Resistance breeding for evergreens is beginning to yield results

by Dee Shore, NC State University

At the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, N.C., postdoctoral researcher Ben Smith patiently tends thousands of evergreen seedlings. His goal: to find at least a few that will tolerate two tiny but troublesome pests.

Part of NC State University’s Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Smith works for the nonprofit Forest Restoration Alliance. His experiments have implications not only for important area industries but also for the fate of forests threatened by invasive insects. Continue reading

Scientists seek public’s help to aid trees

When Sharon Bryant read an e-mail asking citizens to help find healthy infested hemlocks, she wanted to help. Bryant, a middle school science and math teacher in Lenoir County, had a number of hemlocks in her backyard, all of which were covered with the cottony hemlock woolly adelgid, but a few that were still green and thriving. With a call to researchers at North Carolina State University, Bryant became one of the first citizen scientists to participate in the new “Tiny Terrors” project, designed to collect cuttings from hemlock and Fraser fir trees in an attempt to breed adelgid-resistant trees.

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Help find healthy hemlocks for restoration project

The Alliance for Threatened Forests at NC State University has developed and will be running a citizen-science program: “The Tiny Terrors project,” a project that needs citizens to identify and report sightings of hemlocks and Fraser firs that are infested with hemlock woolly adelgids or balsam woolly adelgids, but are still healthy and green. If you’re not sure what the woolly adelgids look like, go to http://www.threatenedforests.org/research/photo-gallery/. The photo gallery will also show you what an unhealthy hemlock or fir looks like.

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Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree! How important is IPM for your branches!

You don’t have to travel very far—indeed you just need to go as far as your neighborhood “big box” or grocery story—to find a healthy offering of Christmas trees. In the Southern US, Fraser firs are among the favorite. In fact, Frasers are one of the favorites of White House residents, as it has graced the Blue Room more than any other tree since the 1960s. The Internet is lush with information about how to size a tree for the space it will occupy and how to care for the tree once you’ve gotten it home. I’m going to focus on a topic that few people want to think out—pests and diseases that can affect Christmas trees.

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Learn about hemlock woolly adelgid Dec. 3 at the NC Science Museum

On Dec 3, 2011 at 11am, come see Dr. Fred Hain discuss his research on the hemlock and balsam woolly adelgids.

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Forest Insect Expert Fred Hain Receives Order of Longleaf Pine

Dr. Fred Hain, a retired NC State University entomology professor, has joined the long list of distinguished North Carolinians to receive the Order of the Longleaf Pine award.

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