Surveys To Find Invasive Insect Planned

HWA begins to move around in warmer weather, so we need to look for them while it’s still cold.

The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, and Jamestown Community College have teamed up to combat a grave threat to our local forests, the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. Several surveys on CWC Nature Preserves and other forested areas will be conducted this month and volunteers are invited to join in the search efforts.

The surveys will take place at CWC’s Cassadaga Creek Preserve, Bloomer Road in Sinclairville on Friday at 12:30 p.m.; Elm Flats First Preserve in Mayville on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 9:30 a.m.; and at DEC’s South Valley State Forest on Friday, Jan. 27 at 12:30 p.m.

There is an opportunity to carpool to Friday afternoon surveys. If you would like to carpool, meet at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute at 311 Curtis St. in Jamestown at noon. On Saturdays, you should always meet the group at the survey site.

The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, or HWA, is an invasive insect that parasitizes hemlock trees, stealing the tree’s nutrients and killing it within four to 10 years. The hemlock tree is an important part of our local forest ecology as many other organisms, from birds to mammals and even fish, are dependent on this tree species to survive.

If an HWA infestation is detected early enough, there are measures that can be taken to kill the insect and save the forest in which it has been found, making the upcoming surveys critical to the health of our forests.

Since HWA infestations have already been identified in Allegany State Park, Zoar Valley, and Fredonia, it’s only a matter of time before it reaches our Nature Preserves. When it does, we hope to find it early enough to save the hemlocks and surrounding forests, and we need the help of volunteers to do that.

Winter is the ideal time to search for HWA because the insects are currently easy to spot, huddled inside balls of white, woolly wax attached to the underside of the hemlock branch. Overwintering HWA are also immobile at this time of year. When the weather warms up, HWA begins to crawl. Conducting surveys when the crawlers are active would pose a risk of accidentally transporting and spreading the HWA on hands, gloves, and hats.

If you’re interested in participating you’ll receive on-site training, so no prior knowledge of invasives is required. Please be prepared for cold weather and deep snow with warm clothing and boots. Snow pants and snow shoes or cross country skis are recommended.

Registration for these surveys is requested. To register or for more information, contact Elyse Henshaw, RTPI Conservation Technician, at 665-2473 or or Jonathan Townsend, CWC Conservation Lands Manager, at 664-2166 or