Tiny Bug Poses Giant Threat to Lake George Water Quality
A tiny bug that lives on land has become a giant threat to the water quality of Lake George.
Together with harmful algal blooms, the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) forms an unprecedented one-two punch of water quality challenges. It’s up to all of us, as Lake Protectors, to provide the unprecedented vigilance and personal protective actions that are required to curb the spread of this potentially devastating invasive species that is literally sucking the life out of the forests that protect our Lake. Become a Lake Protector now to help ensure our success.
It comes, it stays, it conquers
Eastern hemlock trees make up approximately 80% of the forested area in the Lake George Watershed, and play an essential role in capturing and filtering stormwater runoff, minimizing erosion by stabilizing steep slopes, and providing the shade that prevents our streams from becoming too warm.
In recent years, millions of acres of hemlock forests in other parts of the country have been decimated by HWA. In the fall of 2020, that threat came home, with the discovery of the first significant infestation of HWA — over 250 acres of state-owned land — in the Lake George Watershed.
The HWA is a tiny (approximately 1/16th of an inch long) insect that attaches itself to a host hemlock tree, on the twig near the base of a needle, as a juvenile and stays there for the rest of its life. In the process, it proliferates and drains the life out of the tree by inserting its long, piercing mouth through the bark to feed on the tree’s stored starches. Untreated, most infested trees typically die in ten to twenty years, a timeline accelerating as our climate warms.