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Silver Fly Release

Our local hemlock trees just got a little extra help from the release of around 450 silver flies, Leucotaraxis argenticollis, in combating the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid that threatens the health of the native hemlock trees.  These tiny flies will lay eggs only on the woolly protective coating produced by the adelgid and silver fly larva that hatch will eat the adelgid eggs.  NYS Hemlock Initiative, a part of Cornell University’s Department of Natural Resources and the Environment coordinates the collection, rearing and release of this tiny predatory fly that will hopefully help control the invasive adelgid pests that threaten native hemlocks.  Nick Dietschler shares that “these Leucotaraxis silver flies specialize on HWA, and research indicates they can offer control of this pest as an integrated strategy including chemical treatments.”  Students from RMSC Cumming Nature Center's Field Studies program helped with the release. 

This massive effort leads to a long list of partners focusing on treatment as well as training volunteers and landowners how to identify and report adelgid.  Partners such as Finger Lakes Land Trust, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Ontario County Soil & Water Conservation District, Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association, Finger Lakes PRISM, and RMSC Cumming Nature Center have been focusing on surveying, mapping and chemically treating the invasive adelgid in this area as a short-term management strategy while the long-term bio-controls become established. “We have been very fortunate to receive grant funding for chemical treatment on public lands, but we know that is an expensive band-aid. The release of bio-controls like the Laricobius beetle and silver flies will help with establishing a long-term management solution” says Megan Webster, District Manager for Ontario County SWCD.  She continues “hemlock trees are a key species in stabilizing streambanks and protecting water quality and today’s effort marks a big achievement towards their protection.”

Silver flies ( Leucotaraxis argenticolis) in a clear container ready for release
Nick of New York State Hemlock Initiative talking about the silvery flies and how to release them
silver flies being released from container on hemlock branch

Silver flies (Leucotaraxis argenticollis) for release

Release of the silver fly biocontrol on a hemlock tree

Nick Dietschler of New York State Hemlock Initiative 

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