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Tree-killing bug spotted in Ottawa County

The invasive hemlock woolly adelgid has found its way into Park Township near Holland, Michigan. Ken Rauscher with the Michigan Department of Agriculture says they are currently surveying the area to see how widespread the infestation is.

The insect has the potential to wipe out entire stands of hemlock treeks like it did in parts of the East Coast. According to the New York Invasive Species Information website, the hemlock woolly adelgied (HWA) has spread to 18 eastern states from Georgia to Maine:

"HWA now covers nearly half the range of native hemlocks and appears to be spreading about 10 miles a year. It has reached its southern limit, but continues to expand its range to the west and north."

Kelly Goward is with the Ottawa Conservation district. She says the woolly adelgid can be spread through firewood or landscape nursery stock that gets moved around. She says HWA can also "be trasnferred naturally in the environment...they are kind of sticky, so they'll grab hold on a bird or as a deer brushes by a tree that's infected."

Goward says hemlock owners to do is inspect their trees regularly.  The woolly adelgid covers itself with a white cottony substance….so Goward says if you lift up an infested hemlock branch, it’ll look like there’s cotton stuck  where the needles meets the twigs.

Jennifer is a reporter for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and was one of the lead reporters on the award-winning education series Rebuilding Detroit Schools. Prior to working at Michigan Radio, Jennifer lived in New York where she was a producer at WFUV, an NPR station in the Bronx.