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

Archive »This Month

Zen Shiatsu Training

Business Spotlight
Shiatsu School of Vermont, one of two schools certified in the U.S. to offer Zen-style shiatsu certification, is offering a one-year Certified Practitioner Program starting this September.

Transformation Through the Art of Breema

An upcoming weekend retreat at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Movement from April 20 to 22 will provide a fulfilling entry into Breema’s philosophy, self-care exercises and bodywork.

Tour Green Homes at Green House Festival in Brookline

Mothers Out Front has organized a green home tour from noon to 3 p.m. on April 8, in Brookline.

Sleeping Better Naturally

Business Spotlight
At The Organic Mattress, a family-owned specialty sleep store, people will find mattresses made from natural and organic ingredients, including organic cotton, wool and natural latex made from the sap of rubber trees.

Rising Seas Threaten Boston

The Climate Action Business Association (CABA) is standing up to protect Commonwealth small business communities against imminent danger.

Peace on Earth

My latest favorite author is 20th-century new thought leader and philosopher Emmet Fox. His piece below feels like a perfect fit in light of the world’s celebration of our planet on Earth Day this month.