Campus Trees Infested by Burrowing Beetles

Both Atlanta and Georgia Tech are characterized by a plethora of tree coverage, but soon Tech will lose a couple members of its foliage family.

Tech Green Tree Leaves
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This tree on Tech Green is infested with Asian ambrosia beetles and will be removed on Saturday, July 14. The leaves show a reddish-brown discoloration that is a sign of distress for trees suffering such infestations.

A water oak tree on the south end of Tech Green will be removed on Saturday, July 14, after fighting a losing battle against the Asian ambrosia beetle.

Landscaping employees noticed the tree exhibiting signs of distress the first week of June, at which point a certified arborist from the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) was brought in to evaluate its status. On June 26, the ISA reported that the tree had been infested, with no known cure to treat the stubborn insect dwellers.

The female Asian ambrosia beetle infests trees in the spring by boring into them and depositing eggs, leaving a deposit of fungus on which her larvae will feed. The hatched larvae eventually pupate and become adult females that further cultivate the fungus, causing the tree to wilt and die. The beetles can sense a vulnerable tree from nearly a mile away, meaning they could have come from somewhere off campus to inhabit the Tech Green tree.

Trees affected by the beetle’s infestations often exhibit drooping leaves with a reddish or purplish discoloration. In this case, many wilted leaves on the tree exhibit a reddish-brown color. 

“We are in the process of having tree specialists come and treat the trees in the area of the infested trees so they will be protected,” said Warren Page, director of facilities operations and maintenance. An additional tree at the corner of Hemphill Avenue and Ferst Drive is also infested. These two trees are the first experiences Facilities has had with mature trees being infested. 

Though not the oldest, the tree on Tech Green is one of the older ones on campus. Both it and the one at Hemphill and Ferst will be gone but not forgotten, as new trees will be planted in their place.

“It is our policy to place new young trees around campus when trees have to be removed,” Page said. However, replacement trees will not be planted right away, as the summer season is not ideal for trees to take root.