They look like little, white, and greenish specks that are supposed to be on a hemlock tree, like a bud; but, they're not. It's a living, breathing bug that's relatively new to the Tennessee Valley. It was discovered in East Tennessee in 2002, and in the Tennessee Valley in 2010.

Don Smith the owner of Sun and Shade Garden says, "You'll look out there and you'll see it and think, that's a fungus."

It's called the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. During the development stage it looks white and waxy. It can be either winged or wingless, and it eventually kills the tree by sucking sap.

 "The bug won't kill your hemlock overnight, but without treating it, in less than a year it will die," says Smith.

Ways to prevent the pest from occurring include:  
-Keeping hydrated-they are highly susceptible to drought stress which can aggravate problems with pests.
-Keep the roots covered with mulch at least 2-3 inches thick- the roots prefer to be cool and moist.
-Apply fertilizer, but not a nitrogen fertilizer, this can lead to a quicker death of the tree

If you notice these bugs on a hemlock that you've cut down and brought inside your home for the holidays, Smith says they're not harmful, and offers an alternative this holiday season.

 "Get you a live hemlock at your local garden center, hopefully here, and take it in your house and decorate it, leave the root ball on it, put it in a bucket and cover it up, with a Christmas cloth," Smith says.

The bug will not spread inside your home. It's interested in the sap in the tree. To save money, Smith recommends leaving the root ball on the hemlock to save money and plant in your yard after the holiday. For more information on the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, contact Sun and Shade Garden at (423) 821-4245.

Have a weather-related story? Feel free to email Meteorologist Brittany Beggs.