More than 50 trees had to be felled in downtown Moncton following an infestation of an insect called the locust borer.

The city had planted 201 trees in 2007 in an effort to aesthetically enhance the drive along Assumption Boulevard, with 53 of the trees planted being a species called the black locust.

As pleasing as the black locust trees are to motorists, they’re equally as pleasing to the locust borer, a relative of the brown spruce longhorn beetle.

“Once they get into the tree, they actually bore tunnels through the trunk tissue of the tree,” explains parks and grounds supervisor Dan Hicks.

He also says they can kill the tree, and the recent infestation has required the city to cut down all 53 of the newly planted black locust trees in order to stop the beetle from spreading any further.

Karen Carrier is a landscaper who has dealt with locust borers before. She says that by the time the beetles’ presence is noticed, it’s too late to save the tree.

“The biggest concern is trying to minimize the infestation spreading to some of the other trees, so removal is always ideal,” she says.

The locust borer is a native species to the region and its appetite for the black locust tree is a costly one. The price tag to buy and plant each tree is about $500, meaning the city had to chop down roughly $26,500 worth of trees.

“When we did this landscape project we were looking to do something that would be hearty in this area and try something a little different, rather than doing the same old, same old all the time,” says Hicks.

The trees that have been removed will be replaced in the fall, but Hicks says a different species will be chosen.

“We’ve got a list of about 20 different varieties that we’re bringing in this fall, so we’ll pick from that already established list of varieties,” he says.

The trees that have been cut down are being sent to a wood chipper to destroy the beetle and any nests they may have established.

Hicks and his crew will also be inspecting the other trees along Assumption Boulevard to make sure the insect isn’t infecting the other species.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Jonathan MacInnis