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Courthouse trees face dual threat of scale and beetles; spray program authorized

May 18, 2017 - By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer

Pine needle scale has infested the grove of 20 spruce trees in the courtyard in front of the Lander courthouse.

The insects often lead to further infestation from ips bark beetles, also called engraver beetles, which already have damaged one tree in the courtyard.

J.R. Oakley, Fremont County's building maintenance supervisor, said he called in an arborist after noticing that the top of one of the trees was dying.

Andrew Young, owner of Fairfield Tree and Lawn, will now be hired to administer a spray treatment to the bark that will make the sap toxic to the scale.

Young was optimistic the invaders could be contained without further spread.

"They have a hard time moving from tree to tree," he said. "They can move on strong gusts of wind, but not very often. They can also climb on squirrels and birds."

Young said the courthouse issue doesn't necessarily indicate there is a larger problem in Lander, noting that the courtyard's "monoculture" of one species makes the grove particularly susceptible to infestation.

The Fremont County Commission has approved spending $4,343 to have the trees treated.

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