ELKINS, W.Va. (AP) -- Scientists with the U.S. Forest Service have identified 40 sites in the Monongahela National Forest as treatment areas for combating the spread of a non-native insect that has been devastating hemlock trees in the East for more than half-a-century.
The woolly adelgid was first reported in the United States near Richmond, Va., in 1951. Since then, the tiny pest had established itself in 16 states.
First detected in West Virginia in 1992, the insect has now spread throughout the range of the hemlock within the 920,000-acre Monongahela National Forest.
The Charleston Gazette reports that scientists fear the insect could infest the entire range of the eastern hemlock within 30 years. Once a tree is infected, more than 90 percent are dead in 10 to 12 years.