May 3rd , 2013 9:12 am Leave a comment

New beetles to battle hemlock pest in Smokies

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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — Biologists will release two new predatory beetle species in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to battle a pest that has devastated hemlock forests.

The park has been using predatory beetles that feed exclusively on hemlock woolly adelgids (uh-DEL’-jidz) since 2002. Biologists hope releasing the two new species will enhance biological control of the invasive pest. Both of the species to be released come from Osaka region in Japan, which is where the adelgid strain in the park originated.

More than a half-million predatory beetles have been released in the Smokies in the last decade. Biologists also control the pest by spraying horticultural oil on trees near roads and injecting systemic insecticides into the soil and stems of hemlocks in the park.

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