Crown St Mall gum trees: mealybugs attack

Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

It's not easy being green - not in Wollongong's Crown Street Mall, with vandals, gum tree objectors, ugly fences and now bugs to contend with.

A group of spotted gum saplings planted as part of the mall refurbishment is being treated for an infestation of bugs that has turned their leaves a mottled white, as if flaked in sea salt.

It is the latest difficulty for the spotted gums, which sparked heated online debate when they were first planted, for their tendency to drop branches.

They were later targeted by vandals and wrapped in temporary metal fencing to protect them.

Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

The bug infestation was discovered this year and treatment, involving an additive to the trees' daily water supply, began two months ago.

Wollongong City Council has identified the culprits as mealybugs, which secrete a powdery wax layer to protect themselves while they feed off a plant.

The council says the bugs have been killed and the trees are in the midst of a full recovery.

"The infestation has been removed but a residue for the insects remains. We expect this to eventually slough off the leaves," a spokesman said.

Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

"The trees are healthy now."

New fences to protect the gums will be installed as part of the $20 million mall refurbishment, the final construction stage of which began on February 10.

These fences will eventually be removed once the trees are big enough to withstand the efforts of vandals.

Related: 

GALLERY: Opinion divided on Crown St Mall gums

Guards brought in to protect Crown Street Mall trees

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