Invasive balsam woolly adelgid confirmed in northern Michigan

Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 12:11 PM EDT
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MISSAUKEE COUNTY, Mich. (WILX) - Officials in Michigan have verified the detection of an invasive pest called balsam woolly adelgid (BWA) in the northern lower peninsula.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) said on Tuesday that BWA was found at a property in Missaukee County, making it the second county in Michigan to have a confirmed infestation.

Mike Philip is the director of MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division.

“The infestation was found by a consulting forester who was working with the landowner. We don’t known how balsam woolly adelgid was introduced to this site, but early detection is a fundamental component of successful response efforts,” said Philip. “MDARD and its partner agencies have begun survey work to determine the extent of the infestation.”

The pest was first found near Rockford in Kent County in 2021 where the site was treated.

MDARD said BWA is a tiny, sap-feeding insect that attacks true fir trees, including balsam, Fraser, and concolor (white) fir.

It can weaken trees, cause twig gouting, kill branches, and cause trees to die over many years.

Here are the symptoms of a BWA infestation according to MDARD.

  • “Tiny one-to-two-millimeter white woolly tufts on the lower trunk of the tree and possibly on large branches in the spring and summer.
  • Swelling and distortion of the twigs, commonly called “gout.”
  • Flagging – A branch or branches that turn brick-red and die.
  • Tree crowns that become narrow and misshapen with few needles.”

People in Michigan who may find an infestation are recommended to take photos, note the location, and report it to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network or MDARD at or call 800-292-3939.

People can visit the Michigan website for more information on invasive species.

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