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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 47, Issue 1 — January 2021

Activity of Stem-Injected and Soil Applied Imidacloprid Against Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in the Great Smoky Mountains

Joseph J. Doccola

Abstract: Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis [L.] Carrière) is an important component of the riparian ecosystem. Due to the widespread establishment of hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae Annand)(HWA) across the range of eastern hemlock, woodland trees may be infested for extended periods (years), resulting in their decline. Imidacloprid, a systemic neonicotinoid insecticide, may be used as a strategy in forested settings to manage HWA while more long-term solutions become established, such as biological controls. Symptoms of prolonged infestation include extensive dieback and thinned canopies. In this study, trees with a diameter at breast height (DBH) of 24.7 ± 2.7 SD cm in poor condition were treated with imidacloprid. Trees were treated once by trunk-injection (IMA-jet) or by soil drench in the Greenbrier area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, TN, USA. Changes in tree growth and HWA density were measured for 3 consecutive years. Imidacloprid-treated trees recovered, whereas the untreated trees declined. Imidacloprid treatments resulted in significantly higher 3-year mean percent growth (65.6% to 71.7% of tips) compared to the untreated controls (10.5% of tips). HWA density 3-year means in the imidacloprid-treated trees (0.10 to 1.09 per cm) likewise were statistically different to the untreated trees (2.72 per cm). The extended activity of imidacloprid-treated hemlock was attributed to storage in the symplast (xylem ray parenchyma) and to perennial needle retention. This study demonstrates that trunk-injection with IMA-jet is effective against HWA and comparable with soil drench to protect trees in the long term (= 4 years).

Keywords: Hemlock Woolly Adelgid; Imidacloprid; Residual Activity; Soil Drench; Tree Injection

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