APOPKA, Fla. – They may be small, but they're wreaking major havoc on pine trees in Apopka.
Mayor Bryan Nelson announced Thursday that an infestation of flathead wood borer beetles affecting pine trees at the Northwest Recreation Complex has forced city leaders to make the decision to remove the trees before the critters become even more out of control.
City Council members voted April 3 to remove the hundreds of affected trees, as well as the non-affected trees, both at the complex and on the east side of Jason Dwelley Parkway, since it's likely the "aggressive insects" would attack those, as well.
Had they chosen to only remove infested trees, the cost would have started at $46,100 and gone up as more trees became infected. By removing all the pine trees, city leaders expect to receive $25,000 by selling the timber.
"We understand the tree canopy is important to all of our residents but collectively the Council thought that selling the timber before the trees died was the right course of action," Nelson wrote in a statement.
Residents in the Rock Springs Ridge neighborhood received a letter fromNelson detailing the city's plans.
"Since I've lived in Apopka, I'm not surprised about any creatures that's over here," Jerry Roberts said. "The one concern I have is, what's living in them trees now and is it going to come over here?"
Oaks, magnolias and cedars will replace the pines and provide shade for Rock Springs Ridge residents. A plan will be developed and shared with the public to show where the new trees will be placed.
The total cost of the project is unclear but Nelson said there is $200,000 in the city's tree bank program to cover the expenses, as well as the $25,000 in revenue from selling the pine timber.
Nelson pointed out that while the pine trees would have lasted, at most, about 60 years, the oak trees will last for generations to come. Crews plan to remove the pines sometime during the next six months.
"We know that trees are important to our quality of life," Nelson wrote. "By planting trees that will last for centuries instead of years, we will add beauty to our crown jewel of Apopka, the Northwest Recreational Complex."