My woodlot has HWA, what's next???


My woodlot has HWA, what's next???

This article is a personal account of how we are dealing with recently finding hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) in our families' woodlot.

We've known for five years that it was coming.  Now that we've found it on our trees I feel an urgency knowing their time could be limited.

The approach described is based on our current understanding and our priorities.  Everyone will be different.  And we will probably learn new things that will adjust our plans.

Have you had any experience dealing with an HWA infestation?  Please COMMENT with any insights you may have learned from your experience on our Social Media ( Instagram or Facebook ).  

With over 30,000 private woodlot owners, many of us in Nova Scotia are/will be going thru this process.

Most HWA infested hemlocks will eventually die.  And because the bug is so prolific, most trees in an infested area will end up getting infested probably within 1-3 years of the first discovery.

On our 150 acre woodlot, there are about 100 mature hemlock trees over 80 inches around (two people can just touch finger tips if they give it a hug).  And about 10,000 more in various sizes.

We could could let nature run its course as most of our hemlocks die over the next 5-10 years.

We could harvest all our hemlocks before the bug kills them.

We believe that our future woodlot should include hemlock.  So we have decided to treat key trees and eventually implement biocontrols to maintain a natural balance.


So far we have found two separate HWA infestations and they were both isolated to individual trees.  But how widespread is the infestation?  And is it in the older trees that we hope to keep alive?  Because older trees respond much slower to treatment so they will have to be treated early if we hope to keep them alive.

So we are conducting a survey of hemlocks throughout the woodlot:

  • around the trees we know have HWA, we inspect all the hemlocks in the immediate vicinity
  • anytime there is a windstorm or branches come down we search the underside of branches looking for  HWA
  • starting now up until the weather warms we will inspect the upper branches using a bright, focusable light around dusk (HWA pops in the beam)
  • in late May/early June, hemlock tips will grow out and should turn a very distinctive lime green colour.  No colour change suggests the tree may be under stress.  This seems like a good job for a drone.
  • throughout the year we will be checking the health of our hemlocks by assessing their crown density -- from the base of the tree, look up into the crown ... with healthy trees you see very little sunlight coming through dense foliage

We see hemlocks as part of our future woodlot.  We expect many will die but it is important to us that some remain.

First up is an ongoing monitoring program.  As described above, we will be looking for HWA throughout the woodlot.  Winter is a good time to look for the cotton-like, woolly sacs,  Spring is a time to assess new growth and thru the summer and fall we will be looking up into the hemlocks to assess their crown density, looking for signs of needle drop and branches without needles.

Second is the treatment plan. We are currently getting certified to apply pesticides.  We will treat select trees to keep them alive until biocontrols are in place.  We expect to treat between 250 and 500 hemlocks over the next couple of years. Our schedule, the pace of HWA spread and cost will determine the specific numbers. 

The selection will be based on outstanding examples that will be important seed trees and hemlocks along watercourses that provide important erosion/water control.

For the short term, we will be continuously monitoring our hemlocks for HWA, treating select trees as soon as necessary and removing some of the hemlocks that are infested that have not been treated. 

Some of the dying hemlocks will be retained for wildlife and eventually decaying onsite.  

There is going to be a lot of lumber milling.

For the longer term, we have to get the Canadian west coast biocontrol insects produced in large quantities ASAP so HWA is kept in check thru natural processes because continuously applying pesticides every 5-7 years to keep trees alive is unsustainable.

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Many thanks to Donna Crossland for proof reading the copy and offering suggestions.

You and the Hemlock Killing Bug - HWA


A little bug called the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is decimating our Nova Scotian hemlock forests.  

This article is all about simple steps you can take to help prevent the spread.

For some awesome images of Nova Scotia's hemlock forests, check out our social media pages ( Instagram ) ( Facebook )

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's video above does an excellent job of informing us about what we're up against.  See below for the contact information for people to Nova Scotia.

And if you would like to learn more about hemlock woolly adelgid, checkout the free, open to all webinar titled "Hiking the Trails to Save Hemlocks".  Register at :

How can you find HWA?  

There have been positive hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) sightings throughout western Nova Scotia up to a line running from Mahone Bay to Wolfville.  

Is it further east?  This is where you can help!  And right now is the best time to find it.

HWA builds a cotton-like sac on the underside of hemlock branches where the needles meets the stem.  There are several ways to find it:

Grab a branch, turn it over and look for the cotton-like sacs

A fallen branch provides an excellent opportunity to inspect branches that would normally be higher up in the tree

After a wind or ice storm, you will commonly find tips of hemlock branches strewn on the ground.  If the underside of the branch is facing up you can inspect for HWA simply by looking down!

Other options include:
  • using a very bright, focusable light that you shine up into the tree around dusk when the white woolly sacs will pop in the light
  • using a pole saw to cut samples higher up on the tree

If you think you have found HWA, please let us know!  Early detection means there are more treatment options.  We're particularly interested in the leading eastward infestation edge which runs from Mahone Bay to Wolfville. (Hey HRM, that's you!)

To report a sighting, you can:

Send an email to and please include a pic which helps us verify it is HWA

Are you an iNaturalist user?  Simply post it identified as hemlock woolly adelgid

Send you sighting to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.  This is a good option if you would prefer not to disclose the location

You will find hemlock trees in every county in Nova Scotia.  Here are some of our favourites.  Have you visited any of them?  Perhaps you have a fav?

Please help us find HWA as it moves eastward across the province.

And once the weather warms up and HWA starts to move, please take steps to ensure you do not move HWA from an infested forest -- like Keji -- to another hemlock forest -- like Victoria Park in Truro.  Thousands of babies can fall from a single infested tree and it only takes one to start a new population.

So between April and the end of July when in a hemlock forest, please :

1- use a lint roller to wipe down yourself and your pooch as you leave a hemlock forest
2- a quick clothing change makes sure there are no hitchhikers.  10 minutes in the dryer kills HWA
3- avoid placing your gear or parking under hemlock trees
4- acquire your firewood where you burn it

Thank you for your help!

Keji's Hemlock and Hardwood Trail (c) Martin Gray

Wentzell Lake Park (c) Tom Rogers

Truro's Victoria Park @capturesbycarriepink

HWA Community Events - Winter 2023


Oakfield Provincial Park (c)Kayla Sonley-Long

HWA Community Events - Winter 2023

The following events are happening this winter to provide an update on hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) and  information about how you can help prevent the spread.  Please join us at an event near you or online!

Tuesday Feb. 7 - Graves Island Star-gaze and Chili Supper - SORRY, FULL

  • WHERE: Graves Island Provincial Park, Hwy 3 near Chester
  • TIME: 6:15-7:45pm
  • DESCRIPTION : We will provide a short update on HWA that leads into the Chester Rec program ... "Join us for an early evening guided star-gaze followed by hot chili over the wood stove in the trailhead shelter. Unlike other years, we will view the sky (if conditions allow) from the fields adjacent to the shelter…no icy walks to contend with this year. Hot chocolate, chili, and good company guaranteed! Park at the parking lot before the causeway and walk across to the trailhead shelter. Watch your footing on the causeway as it can get icy."  We will be available for questions.
  • COST : $5.00/person (under 12 free)
  • REGISTER : call Chester Rec at  902-275-3490

Saturday Feb. 18 - Winter Walk & Wildlife Signs - Chester area

  • WHERE: Haughn Property Trail – Middle River (civic # 4956 Hwy #3)
  • TIME: 9:30 to 11am
  • DESCRIPTION : We will provide a short update on HWA that leads into the Chester Rec program ...  "Join us for a Winter walk through the new trail at the Haughn property. If we’re lucky, we’ll have a fresh supply of snow that will allow us to track some of the wide variety of wild critters that inhabit our local woods and fields.. We’ll also discuss the practice of wildlife tracking in general including how to get started, equipment to have, and what resources are available. Curiosity and a willingness to slow down and pay attention are the main things needed for this experience." We will be available for questions.
  • REGISTER : call Chester Rec at  902-275-3490

Monday Feb. 20 - Windhorse Farm - Hwy 10 between Bridgewater/New Germany

  • WHERE: Windhorse Farm, 129 Sarty Rd, New Germany
  • TIME: 10am
  • DESCRIPTION : We will provide a short update on HWA that leads into the Lunenburg County Hikers event ... "This 200-acre place in the "Acadian forest", more respectfully called Forest Wapane'kati, opens one to natural beauty and tranquility. Let the sounds and silence of nature sink into your bones as you wander along forest trails. Bring your snowshoes if conditions allow. Please bring a donation for the farm. Rated 2B for some moderate hills but well-groomed trails with few obstacles. Co-host: Hike Nova Scotia." We will be available for questions.
  • REGISTER : Lunenburg County Hikers /

Wednesday Feb 22 - WEBINAR - Hiking the Trails to Save Hemlocks

  • WHERE: online
  • TIME: 7pm
  • DESCRIPTION : Hike Nova Scotia and Nature Nova Scotia present the Hiking the Trails to Save Hemlocks webinar on conserving old growth hemlock forests, the threat of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) and what hikers can do to help shady dark hemlock forests persist.
  • COST : FREE, Open to all

Many thanks to The Chester Municipal Recreation Department, the Lunenburg County Hikers, Hike NS and Donna Crossland for all their assistance with these events!

2022 Predictions Update


2022 Predictions Update

Early last year, I made four predictions relating to Nova Scotia's trees and forests.  So how did it pan out???  

Prediction 1 -- Hemlocks will be saved where private citizens take the initiative.


Many private citizens hired individuals with a pesticide license to treat their hemlocks.  

But we had been hoping for a larger private citizen initiative which did not pan out.  

However, the provincial government stepped up with an ambitious plan to identify high priority hemlock stands and the tools to treat the trees.  

That's a win in our books.

Prediction 2 -- Conservation in Nova Scotia will get a significant boost this year


Many ambitious land conservation projects took place this year.  The Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, The Provincial Government.  New initiatives like the Nova Scotia Working Woodlands Trust, Growing Forests.  And the turnaround at Owl's Head and Bridgewater are examples of how people power can make a difference.

Prediction 3 -- Outdoor recreation will have a banner year


Nova Scotia provincial parks had a banner year -- the best ever.  Our two National Parks -- Keji and the Cape Breton Highlands -- both reported significant visitor increases.

Prediction 4 -- Disaster Planners will move to protect hemlocks to mitigate the effects of climate change

When I made this prediction, I thought it was wishful thinking.  

But you know what, thoughts can become things.  

$10M in Federal Funding for climate change was directed towards the hemlock woolly adelgid.  And this has made a HUGE difference.


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