A small bug known as the emerald ash borer is making its way across the Midwest.
While tiny in stature, it packs quite the punch and can be deadly for ash trees, which make up about 13 to 15 percent of Lawrence's tree population.
"This bore gets under the bark in the cambium and makes S-shaped tunnels back and forth, totally plugs up the vascular, or stops the vascular flow of material up and down the tree," explains Mark Graves, of Custom Tree Care.
The minuscule pest has Graves and other lawn and landscape companies on high alert after it was discovered in Wyandotte County last week. Graves says it's not a question of if the ash borer gets to Lawrence but when and what the city will do to combat it.
"The bad part is by the time you do find it or it is detected, it's probably been there at least three to five years," Graves said. "You can treat them chemically through injections, and once they get to the point they can't be saved then it makes sense to remove them."
Graves said the emerald ash borer was first detected in Detroit, got here through overseas packaging and "has spread unfortunately like gang busters into other larger municipalities."
Graves says the spread of the borer is due to firewood being transmitted across state lines. It's gotten so bad in Michigan that the state has imposed a $4,000 fine for leaving the state with hardwood.
And before the problem gets out of control in Lawrence, Graves says the city's best bet is to inform the public of the threat
"If more people are aware that this is going on, the sooner that we can try to get it under control and at least slow the spread if not stop the spread," he said.
To find out if your tree is infected with the emerald ash borer, click here.