State of Michigan Investing $862,400 to Enhance Control Efforts of Invasive Insect

Lansing, Michigan | February 05, 2018

Stopping the spread of an invasive insect in west Michigan just got a little easier, thanks to funding awarded by the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program.

Through the program, the Michigan Departments of Environmental Quality, Natural Resources and Agriculture and Rural Development awarded more than $860,000 in funding to survey, map and control hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). HWA has been attacking hemlock trees in Allegan, Ottawa, Muskegon and Oceana counties since 2015.

The tiny sap-sucking insects deplete a hemlock’s starch reserves and eventually kill the tree. HWA infestations can be detected by the small, white, woolly masses attached to the underside of the twig, near the base of the needles.

Hemlocks provide year-round shelter and foraging for wildlife and help regulate stream temperatures, which is important for trout and other fish species. The loss of hemlocks in Michigan could extend beyond wild areas to nurseries, landscapers, homeowners and the vibrant tourism industry.

The three grant projects aim to preserve hemlocks by advancing an integrated statewide strategy to manage HWA. Recipients are:

  • The Nature Conservancy ($363,000), with the combined forces of the Michigan Dune Alliance, will conduct a Lake Michigan HWA detection survey outside of the four known infested counties to determine the presence of additional outbreaks. The span will cover an additional ten counties.
  • The Ottawa Conservation District ($200,000 and $299,400), with combined forces of the West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (WMCISMA), will be delimiting and mapping the distribution of HWA within the four infested counties and will deploy treatments to stabilize hemlock trees until lasting solutions are available. These efforts supplement a project initiated with support from a 2017 Great Lake Restoration Initiative (GLRI) award.

Shaun Howard, Eastern Lake Michigan project manager of The Nature Conservancy, says that the Michigan Dune Alliance is focused on building capacity to search for invasive species throughout coastal counties.

“Early detection is the most effective way to fight and address the damage invasive species can cause to our cherished natural resources," Howard said. “It is probable that HWA is outside of the four known counties and it is integral to survey beyond the known extent now so we can effectively prioritize our response.”

By now, the story of tree populations collapsing is a familiar one. From the sudden absence of the American chestnut, which was attacked by an exotic fungal disease, to the most recent demise of the ash by the emerald ash borer.

“Today, pests and disease are decimating trees with unprecedented speed,” said Drew Rayner of the WMCISMA. To give populations a fighting chance, financial resources to invasive species managers must be allocated in a prompt manner. “We’re grateful of the State’s support of the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, which is allowing us to take action on HWA,” says Rayner.

Michigan residents are encouraged to check their hemlocks and report possible HWA infestations to Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, or phone the MDARD Customer Service Center at 800-292-3939.

For more information:

Shaun Howard, Eastern Lake Michigan Project Manager
The Nature Conservancy

Drew Rayner, WM CISMA Coordinator
Ottawa Conservation District


The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Melissa Molenda
The Nature Conservancy
(517) 230-0818


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