Eastern hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis Carrière) at two sites in southwestern Virginia were treated by trunk and soil injections of imidacloprid to determine the insecticide's impact on hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae Annand. Treatments were 25, 50, and 100% of the highest labeled dosage rates for both stem and soil injection. Three and 4 yr after treatment, the half and full rates had significantly reduced A. tsugae populations, which were accompanied by increased new hemlock shoot growth and higher hemlock health scores on a visual rating of tree appearance. Imidacloprid and metabolite concentrations in tissue of treated trees were determined by liquid chromatography—tandem mass spectrometry, and A. tsugae density decreased as imidacloprid concentrations increased in wood tissue. There were no observed A. tsugae populations in all trees with imidacloprid tissue concentrations >413 ppb. Olefin, di-hydroxy, and 6-chloro-nicotinic-acid metabolites were the imidacloprid metabolites recovered in the highest concentrations. This suggests that hemlock metabolism of imidacloprid may increase efficacy of the parent compound. Stem and soil treatments of low rates of systemic imidacloprid reduce adelgid populations and promote hemlock health, but still may provide a remnant food source for beneficial predators.
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