Twenty infected trees replaced in parking lot

By Cody Casares, Assistant Photo Editor

Trees infested by a tree killing insect have been cut down and removed from campus in Lot 2 next to the Gymnasium.

The Buildings and Grounds Department contracted an outside group to remove 20 trees which had been infested with the insects.

Following the removal of trees, an irrigation system was placed in the area, with the goal of watering future trees that have been set to replace the infected trees, Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King said.

“(The cost of) removing the trees was about $4,500, to cut them down, remove and grind the stumps,” King said, “it was a great deal.”

The trees were infested with a sap robbing insect called a thrip.

Thrips, also known as thunder-bugs, are a slender bodied insect with thin wings.

The thrips kill trees by slowly consuming the tree’s sap stored in its leaves, causing the leaves to curl, dry and ultimately die.

The species of removed trees that populated the dividers in the parking lot were Myoporum Laetum, which were the only trees infected.

The trees removed from campus are known for their resilience to harsh environments, however, the prolonged California drought, coupled with a thrips infestation came to a head, and began to kill the trees, King said.

Once the trees were found to be infested with the insects, the decision was made to cut them down.
King said the alternative to removing the trees was to instead treat the infestation with powerful and potentially harmful pesticides.

The trees were not just cut down, but the stumps of the trees were also pulled from the ground, and then ground up he said. This ensured that any thrips still in the stump could not spread to any nearby trees, thereby continuing the infestation.

The new trees will be about 6-10 feet in height when they are fully matured, he said.
“We’re hoping once the landscapers get done, people will be happy with the new look.” he said.
Business and administration major Chris Vilaisak said, “There’s a lot of trees on campus, but it’s not enough. It could look better.”

“I think it looked better before though. I’ll miss those old trees,” Vilaisak said.

Each year Buildings and Grounds plants 10 new trees as well as an additional 10 trees on Arbor Day.

According to a study done at UC Davis, little is known about the thrips, as it was only recently discovered in samples sent from California to Australia for study.