Scott Salom, a professor of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has worked for years to develop ways to combat the woolly adelgid and save hemlock trees.

In 2013, he and his team of researchers released one of the hemlock woolly adelgid’s predators from its native habitat in Japan into the woods in Virginia and West Virginia. If all goes as planned, the beetle will be another tool that resource managers will have to save the treasured trees.

“We don’t want to lose the hemlocks, and we have to explore every avenue we can to save them,” Salom said. “This is a battle we feel compelled to take on.”

The Laricobius osakensis beetle was discovered in Japan in 2005, where it was feasting on the hemlock woolly adelgid and keeping its population in check. Salom obtained a permit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to bring the beetles to Virginia Tech, where they were under quarantine for six years. During that time, he did a series of tests to ensure that the beetle wouldn’t harm other native species and would indeed go after the hemlock woolly adelgid.

In 2010, Salom got approval to release the beetles. In fall 2012, his team placed 500 into two sites where the adelgids were wreaking havoc. In 2013, 6,000 beetles were released at five additional sites, adding Maryland and Pennsylvania to the state lists.


Learn more about the Japanese beetle that may help Virginia Tech entomologists fight hemlock-killing insect from this VT New story from 2007.