City removes bug infested trees

Natalie Johnson 
Graphics Editor/ Humor Columnist

A tree infested with emerald ash borers, a beetle native to Asia and detrimental to ash trees, was discovered behind Straubs in Old Webster.

The presence of emerald ash borers in Webster means

Photo from Wiki Commons
Emerald ash borer larvae burrow into ash trees and stifle the growth of the tree, often killing them. The ash borer exits the tree, leaving a D-shaped hole in the bark. The City of Webster Groves will be cutting down ash trees throughout Webster in order to prevent the further spread of ash borers. Public domain photo from Wiki Commons

the removal of about 390 trees from city parks and streets, according to Parks and Recreation officials.

Emerald ash borer larvae burrow under the bark of ash trees, eating the inner bark and consuming much of the trees nutrients. This stifles the growth of the trees, causing them to die and become very brittle. The dead or dying ash trees can be hazardous.  

Over the next three years or so, the city will remove trees to prevent the spread of the beetles and to prevent the possibility of trees becoming dangerous and more expensive to remove. Thirty to 40 trees have already been removed, and trees posing the largest threat are to be removed in an estimated one and a half years, according to  parks superintendent Yvonne Steingruby.

Although there is treatment for trees that have been infected, it is very expensive and not a probable solution for the city, said Parks and Recreation director Scott Davis. Treatment must be repeated on the trees every other year, which means treatment must be paid for every other year.

Webster has selected a small number priority trees throughout the city that will receiving treatment. This selection is based off of tree location and tree benefits, such as providing shade. So far one ash tree has been treated in Southwest Park.

The city has a plan to replace as many trees as possible, and Steingruby suggests private landowners “consider better trees as transplants”. It is the responsibility of homeowners to handle ash trees on their private property. The city has been education Webster’s citizens of the presence of ash borers and the threat they pose.

Despite the many downsides of removing the trees, such as the cost and potential dangers, Steingruby thinks the situation offers opportunity to improve and “opportunity to diversify the forest” in Webster.

Emerald ash borers are not an issue to be taken lightly, and the City of Webster Groves is putting forth a large effort to subside the issue.

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