This page is to help you identify hemlock trees and hemlock woolly aldegid. If you are unsure whether your tree has an infestation, please make a report. You can bring photos of the needles to a local nature center for identification… We want to help you!

Quick links

Find a local nature center to help you identify HWA.

Learn how to identify hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA).

Not sure what a hemlock looks like? Learn how to identify a hemlock tree (includes information about common look alikes).

Identifying hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA)

HWA is a white, woolly mass that is attached to the tree at the base of the needle.

Eggs and young adelgids are often spread during spring bird migration, so often infestations are at the very top of the tree.

HWA

HWA look alikes

There are HWA look alikes. We’ll list a few below to help you in identification. If you aren’t sure, please still make the report. We will be able to help you identify HWA.

HWA look alike information from the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development and Michigan Invasive Species.

Identifying a hemlock tree:

Eastern hemlocks are a conifers (they have cones) and they keep their needles year round.

hemlock tree with cone

Needles are flat, not round and they are attached individually to the branch, not in bunches like pine trees. Needles have two white “racing stripes” on the underside.

Hemlock trees are dark green (and often appear darker than pines) and have somewhat droopy, lacy-looking branches. They can be found in beech-maple forests, coniferous swamps, forested dunes (usually north facing), and along river corridors.

Hemlocks along the Pigeon River at Hemlock Crossing Park, photo by David Michael Lawson. 

Here’s a handy key for more examples.

Hemlock Lookalikes

Eastern hemlock trees have a couple of tricky look alikes. Below is a photo of a Yew (Taxus sp.) Yew needles are longer and do not have the white stripes found on a hemlock. They also produce a berry-like cone, very different than the cone found on a hemlock.

The following photo is a Cypress (Taxodium distichum).

Nature Centers who can help

If you suspect may have HWA, bring a clear photo of the branch and needles to any of the following nature centers for help with identification:

Ottawa County Parks Nature Education Center, 8115 West Olive Rd, West Olive, MI 49460

DeGraaf Nature Center, 600 Graafschap Rd, Holland, MI 49423

Gillette Visitor Center at PJ Hoffmaster State Park, 6585 Lake Harbor Rd, Norton Shores, MI 49441 **Any person wishing to ID possible HWA at Gillette Nature Center, should call or email first to set up an appointment with Sean (or be willing to leave pictures with contact information): Sean Simonson, 231-798-3711

Please do not bring a potentially infected branch to be identified. This may spread HWA. 

We are working to train staff at more local nature centers to be able to identify HWA, so there are more locations available to the public. If you are interested in become an identification center, please contact us.