Several iconic banyan trees will be chopped down Thursday

Banyan tree insect infestation

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Several iconic banyan trees will be chopped down Thursday in Waikiki and it is all because of a tiny invasive insect that's starting to cause widespread damage.

The State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture has deemed the entire island of Oahu infested.

"It hits a wide range of trees.  So banyans...it also attacks hibiscus, we found it on koa," said Darcy Oishi, Hawaii State Plant Quarantine Manager.

The department says the tiny invasive species is called the Lobate Lac Scale.

"The Lobate Lac Scale is a scale insect that is related to the insect that produces shellac...that's why you got the word 'lac' in there," Oishi said.

The tiny pests infest the branches and stems of certain trees and flowers, causing them to be encrusted with thick layers of mold which stops leaves from growing.

Oishi says it has a thick outer shell which insulates it from pesticides and other efforts to kill it.

Trees fronting the Kapiolani Regional Park Bandstand parking lot on Monsarrat Avenue near Kalakaua Avenue are clearly damaged.

That is why the City and County of Honolulu is hiring a tree care company to demolish five trees.

"These five trees are now at the point where our certified arborists from the city and county have determined that they're not going to be able to come back. They are located on a busy road with a busy sidewalk and we don't want anyone to get hurt so we're going to remove them as a safety precaution," said Chris Dacus, Executive Assistant at the Department of Parks and Recreation.

This same pest also hit two banyan trees at Thomas Square and last week city crews had to chop those down too.

At least two more trees at Kapiolani Park are infected and will likely be coming down in the future.

Experts still don't know where the insects came from.

City officials can't tell us how much money this project is costing them.

The work should be done by Friday.

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