NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The introduction of a tiny green beetle in 2014 is about to lead to big changes to Nashville’s tree canopy. The Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive species, and unfortunately, hundreds of trees will be chopped down due to its presence.

Randall Lantz is the Superintendent of Horticulture for Metro Nashville Parks & Recreation, and he says that the ash tree population in Davidson County has been devasted by these pests. “It’s a little tiny beetle, about half an inch long. People see the signs and the posters, and they think it’s a monster bug.”

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While the size of the beetle may not be monstrous, their effect on ash trees is.

“It’s really pretty small, and it doesn’t fly very well. But when it does fly, it goes from ash tree to ash tree and lays eggs, which turn into little worms, little larva, which works their way down the trunk of the tree over a period of about three years and ultimately kills the tree.” Lantz said.

He added that an infestation is nearly always fatal to the tree.

After an ash tree dies, it’s just a matter of time before it falls down. Due to the risk, hundreds of ash trees will be removed from Metro Parks over the next few months.

Lantz says that it’s easy to identify when an ash tree is infected with this beetle. “It starts with the top of your ash tree looking thin, looks like leaves are falling off in the top. The next year, more leaves, further down, falling off. By the third year, things are either really bad for the tree or the tree has died. Sometimes, it takes a little longer than three years.”

In Metro Parks, downed trees can be a major hazard. “That’s the reason we’re very concerned in parks, on playgrounds, paths, horse trails, greenways. Anywhere we invite people in that we need to make sure we get these trees down and get them out of the way before they fall over on folks.”

According to Lantz, a lot of trees are set to be cut down, “It’s over 400. It’s like 465 is the plan for this year. That’s the ones we have inventoried, trees, and parks all over town. So we have a big inventory.”

Parks & Recreation plans to replace the ash trees with native ones, “We’ll try to come back with what we call canopy trees, the ones that have their shade and, and be tall and, and lasts a long, long time.”

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To help raise awareness about the EAB, Metro Parks is partnering with Nashville Tree Foundation to give some ash trees in several parks across the city a second life as outdoor public art. Ash tree sculptures will be on display starting this Fall.