The City of Regina announced Friday the first cases of Dutch elm disease have been found in the city.
There are currently five confirmed cases of the disease in the Queen City, and one tree was taken down in Victoria Park in an effort to contain the disease.
“It prevents water from the roots to the canopy and will slowly kill the tree,” said Ryan Johnston, the city’s pest control supervisor.
When green leaves turn to yellow, wilt and then eventually turn brown, it is a sign the tree is infected with Dutch elm disease.
“Usually we get 10, 15 trees that are infected every year,” Johnston said. In total, Regina has roughly 45,000 elm trees. This means roughly 0.03 per cent of Regina’s elms are infected each year, though the disease can kill an elm tree within weeks of infection.
In total, the city has lost 150 trees to Dutch elm disease since 1981.
The primary culprit in spreading the disease is a small beetle.
“This fungus is spread by a tiny beetle called the elm bark beetle,” Johnston said. “This beetle feeds tree to tree and spread this fungus around. So its very important for us to immediately identify and get rid of the tree as soon as we can.”
The disease can also be spread when trees are close together, where the roots touch – the disease moves through the root system between the trees.
To help stop the disease people can fertilize, water and prune trees regularly to keep them healthy.
An easy way to prevent the disease is for residents to not transport firewood into Regina from out of the city.
Anyone who spots a tree with symptoms that look like Dutch elm disease is asked to call 306-777-7000 and alert Service Regina.