City preparing for overseas bug infestation

The City of Regina is preparing for an infestation this summer that officials have never seen before.

A pesky bug from overseas has been eating North American ash trees — and that bug is on the verge of entering Regina city limits.

The bug is called the emerald ash borer. It’s an invasive species of beetle that burrows into ash trees and lays eggs. The larva eat the tree from the inside, usually killing the ash tree.

The bugs have already travelled through the United States, Ontario and Manitoba. Ash trees make up more than 35 per cent of Regina’s urban population, meaning the bug could have a big impact on the future of Regina’s trees.

The city has laid traps in various ash trees throughout the city to determine where and when the beetles will land in Regina. Officials believe the bugs will arrive in the city sometime this summer. They are usually spread through transporting firewood, similar to Dutch elm disease.

The majority of the infected trees will be killed — either by the city or by the bug itself. The city also plans to suspend its ash tree planting program and kill all ash trees subject to relocation.

There are currently 62,000 ash trees in Regina, and they are all considered at risk of infestation by the beetle.

“Once emerald ash borer is confirmed in a city, you can expect to see all of the ash trees die within a 10-year period — 100 per cent,” said Russel Eirich, city manager of forestry. “So, if you think of one-third of all the trees in the city, that’s a significant environmental risk.”

The provincial government has banned the transportation of ash wood and ash products into Saskatchewan from Manitoba and the U.S.

With files from CTV Regina‘s Josh Diaz