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If You See This Insect, Report It Immediately

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Hemlock Insect

That white stuff isn’t snow, it’s the dreaded hemlock woolly adelgid. Photo by Conn. Agricultural Experiment Station

Michigan officials are asking people to be on the lookout this winter for the hemlock woolly adelgid.

What in the world is a hemlock woolly adelgid? No, it’s not a creature from “Star Wars,” but rather a small invasive insect that lives on eastern hemlock trees and is active in winter, oddly enough.

“Cooler temperatures trigger feeding activity,” said Robert Miller, MDARD’s invasive species prevention and response specialist. “As hemlock woolly adelgids feed, they secrete a white, waxy material that creates ovisacs. The presence of these small, round, white masses makes it possible to identify infested trees.”

The reason that’s bad is that the insects “consume a hemlock’s stored nutrients, slowly sucking the life from the tree,” the Michigan DNR said.

If you have eastern hemlock trees on your property, or know of any when you’re in the woods, be on the lookout for the insects. DNR officials said infestations of the hemlock woolly adelgid have already been confirmed in Allegan, Ottawa, Muskegon, Oceana and Mason counties. Officials estimate Michigan has 170 million hemlock trees.

What do I do if I find one of these horrible things?

Report an infested hemlock tree by using the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network, available online at or as a smartphone app.

Or you can email or call 800-292-3939.

Officials say you should identify the location of infested tree(s) and, if possible, take one or two pictures of infested branches to help confirm identification. Do not collect samples, as that could spread the insect.