Researchers Track “Gray Ghosts” Across the Southern Appalachians

 
Researchers Track “Gray Ghosts” Across the Southern Appalachians

A present-day ghost story from the southern Appalachians has captured the attention of  Eastern Threat Center researchers who are using high-tech tools to follow the footprints of lost life. The ghosts in this story are eastern and Carolina hemlock trees being killed in increasing numbers by an exotic invasive insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid, which is native to Asia and is transported through forests by animals, wind, and, accidentally, by people. Often called gray ghosts because of their pale, skeleton-like appearance, the dead hemlocks are obvious across the mountain landscape. Using a forest monitoring tool known as ForWarn, scientists are able to see just how devastating the hemlock losses have become across the southern Appalachians, where the hemlock woolly adelgid thrives in the warmer temperatures. Here, the hemlock woolly adelgid is killing trees much more quickly than in the more northern areas of the hemlocks’ range, sometimes in as few as four years after infestation. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: Gray ghosts are a common sight in the southern Appalachians. A hemlock woolly adelgid infestation has killed many hemlock trees in the Linville Gorge area of Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina. Photo by Steve Norman, U.S. Forest Service.

 

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