Predatory beetles may control hemlock pest

NEWPORT, Tenn. (AP) -- The state Agriculture Department's Forestry Division has released predatory beetles at the Martha Sundquist State Forest in Cocke County.

The beetles feed on hemlock woolly adelgids, an invasive pest killing hemlock trees from Maine to Georgia. Forestry officials hope the predatory beetles will control the adelgids that already have killed many of the mature hemlocks at Martha Sundquist.

Forester Douglas Godbee said officials will monitor the predatory beetles over the next couple of years to see if they reproduce and establish themselves.

The hemlock woolly adelgid is a small, aphid-like insect that is native to Asia. The potential impact of this exotic pest is comparable to that of Dutch elm disease or chestnut blight.

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