Deep into West Virginia, in a quiet valley within a pristine gorge, lies a puzzling sight. The locals call it the "Polka Dot Forest." It makes the uninformed wonder a bit, and speaks of a worrisome future to those "in the know."
In late April, just before Flora-Quest, I had traveled to the New River Gorge in West Virginia with Greg Miller, to see what would become my life Swainson's Warbler. Needless to say the scenery is beyond gorgeous and I would recommend the New River Birding Festival to any of you inclined toward natural things.
As we walked along, Greg commented to me about the "dots" on the trees. "What do you suppose they are?"
Realizing the trees were Hemlocks, and fairly up-to-date on the plight of our natives Hemlocks under siege, I suggested they might be a scientific study.
As if a timely apparition, out of the forest (and into our lives) stepped Layne Strickler, a fascinating young lady working for none other than the National Parks Service, treating Hemlock Woolly Adelgid.
|Hemlock Wooley Adelgid infestation on the underside of Hemlock|
These studies are very important to those of us in Ohio that understand the significance of our native Hemlock. It is a keystone species and an integral part of of our ecology at Mohican which we cannot afford to lose.
Since Ohio has recently had it's first occurrences of hemlock woolly adelgid, we are being vigilant against this devastating pest which has forever scarred the face of much of the Great Smokies' forest.
To read more about the work with hemlock woolly adelgid in West Virginia, go here.
Allow a little extra time to admire the Rhododendron as well. This understory specialist relies on the Hemlock and will surely be impacted if we lose the battle with hemlock woolly adelgid.
My money is on Layne.