Tree Terminators

Insects Assault America’s Forests




alenka2194/Shutterstock.com

In a towering forest of centuries-old eastern hemlocks, the tiny hemlock woolly adelgid spends its life sucking sap and eventually killing the tree. The bug is one example of an expanding horde of insects draining the life out of forests from New England to the West Coast. Aided by global trade, a warming climate and drought-weakened terrain, this invasion represents one of the greatest threats to biodiversity in the U.S. Scientists say they are already driving some tree species toward extinction and causing billions of dollars a year in damage, with the situation expected to worsen.

Today’s connected world enables foreign invaders to cross oceans in packing materials or on garden plants, and then reach American forests to rapidly expand their ranges. According to a new study in Ecological Applications, scientists say several species of hemlock and 20 species of ash could become nearly extinct in coming decades. Such destruction would eliminate a critical sponge to capture greenhouse gas emissions, a natural shelter for birds and native insects and a reliable food supply for bears and other animals. Dead forests also increase the danger of wildfires.


This article appears in the April 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Saving Sharks

With 30 percent of shark species threatened with extinction, island nations are establishing bans on shark fishing in surrounding waters.

Dirty Driving

From Paris to Athens to Seattle, cities are struggling to counter vehicular pollution with car-free days and other strategies.

Water Saver

A South African girl has designed a super-absorbent polymer made of recycled avocado skins and orange peels that can store reserves of water hundreds of time its own weight.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »This Month

Recumbent Biking for Fitness, Function and Fun

With smoother aerodynamics, improved ergonomics and a sleek presentation, recumbent bikes are quickly gaining a new audience. In the last several years, more people have started turning to recumbent biking for cardiovascular exercise, off-road adventures, an alternative to driving or just to explore the neighborhood.

Center for Holistic Medicine Expands Staff

Irina Tutunikov, DO, has joined the practice of the Center for Holistic Medicine, in Riverwoods/Deerfield. She practices functional, anti-aging, metabolic and internal medicine with an emphasis on prevention and woman’s health.

Rolfing Structural Integration Improves Sitting Posture

When sitting, many people believe that pulling their shoulders back, lifting up the chest and tucking in their buttocks to eliminate the curve of the lower back creates a healthy posture.

Considering a Mediated Divorce Settlement

Divorce stories are much like war stories, only funnier—when it involves our neighbors instead of us and our soon-to-be ex.

North Shore Classic Half Marathon and 5K Race

RAM Racing will host the 37th annual North Shore Classic half marathon and 5K race May 31 in Highland Park, with a purse of more than $10,000

Natural Solutions to Infertility

Holistic Fertility Coach Barbara Weiner, MA, will present a workshop on natural, mind-body ways to prepare for pregnancy and overcome unexplained infertility.