The hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae Annand (Hemiptera: Adelgidae), is an introduced pest of unknown origin that is causing severe mortality to hemlocks (Tsuga spp.) in eastern North America. Adelgids also occur on other Tsuga species in western North America and East Asia, but these trees are not significantly damaged. The purpose of this study is to use molecular methods to clarify the relationship among hemlock adelgids worldwide and thereby determine the geographic origin of the introduction to eastern North America. Adelgids were collected from multiple locations in eastern and western North America, mainland China, Taiwan, and Japan, and 1521 bp of mitochondrial DNA was sequenced for each sample. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that the source of A. tsugae in eastern North America was likely a population of adelgids in southern Japan. A single haplotype was shared among all samples collected in eastern North America and samples collected in the natural range of T. sieboldii in southern Honshu, Japan. A separate adelgid mitochondrial lineage was found at higher elevations in the natural range of T. diversifolia. Adelgids from mainland China and Taiwan represent a lineage that is clearly diverged from insects in North America and Japan. In contrast to eastern North America, there is no conclusive evidence for a recent introduction of A. tsugae into western North America, where multiple haplotypes are found. Implications for hemlock woolly adelgid control, taxonomy, and plant–insect coevolution are discussed.

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