A Public Works official has discovered an infestation of Lecanium Scale on many of the willow oak trees in the Central Business District. The scale lives on the branches of the tree and sucks the sap out of the trees, which keeps the them from getting water and vital nutrients the tree needs.
If left untreated, infestation will shorten the service life of trees and kill others.
Additionally, the insect secretes a clear droplet of sticky fluid called, "honeydew," that can drip onto cars and the pavement.
The total amount of trees impacted is about 500 and are located on both Broad and Market Streets between M.L. King Boulevard and Aquarium Way. The other infested area is on Riverfront Parkway at Ross's Landing. Most of the species involved are willow oak with only a small amount of overcup oak and water oak.
“Thanks to the discovery and quick action made by Gene Hyde, our city forester, we hope to be able to contain the infestation and not have to endure the cost of replacing dozens to hundreds of trees,” said Justin Holland, Public Works administrator. “We’ll review bids once they are in and have confidence that in whoever we choose will help eliminate the scale and restore the trees health.”
The city is in the process of getting three bids for the application of an appropriate insecticide to treat these valuable trees. In the meantime, to keep the scale population in check, Hyde is exploring the possibility of purchasing bulk amounts of native insects such as lady bugs and/or praying mantis or others to control the population of the scale.
The city expects to have treatment bids in by the middle of May. The cost of replacement is approximately $300 per tree.