You may have never heard of lecanium scale, but city forester Gene Hyde is constantly on the lookout for them. They're small, destructive insects that are literally sucking the life out of hundreds of trees in Chattanooga.

"They start to suck out all of the sap and the juices inside the tree that help keep the tree alive and functioning and thriving and in good condition," says Hyde.

This makes the trees weak and prone to other infestations and diseases. Hyde first noticed the problem about five years ago, but lately it's grown into a much bigger issue

"We've done some spot treatments here and there," adds Hyde. "Unfortunately, that hasn't worked to keep the number under control."

The insects are attacking more than 500 oak trees downtown. Trees are an important part of our landscape and ecosystem. So, to nip the problem in the bud the Public Works Department hired ABC Tree Service, a company based in Hamilton County.

Owner Milo Melton, a certified arborist and pesticide applicator is using a product called Transtect. It's specifically designed to attack hard scale insects like the Lecanium. It works kind of like an antibiotic attacking an infection.

"It's absorbed through the trunk of the tree and gets into the trees vascular system. It translocates through the entire tree and fives a pretty quick response," explains Hyde.

It does the jobs within one to two weeks. Hyde says it's safe for the tree and doesn't pose a threat to your family.

"It's not a restricted use pesticide. It's not highly poisonous or highly toxic to humans," adds Hyde.

He might do a follow up treatment using ladybugs which will eat any leftover Lecanium and hopefully keep the situation at bay in the future.

"It's the worst case I've seen so far and I hope I never see worse," says Hyde.

Hyde also says the city considered three bids for the job. ABC Tree Service, the only local company on the list, offered the lowest firm bid of around $17,700. He's confident the work will be finished before Riverbend kicks off this weekend and not cause any traffic delays downtown.