The beetle to blame for the devastation of Fort Collins’ lush urban forest hasn’t even been born.

It’s an odd thought, but not an unfamiliar one for the city’s forestry department. They say waiting for the emerald ash borer to migrate from Longmont to Fort Collins, where about one in five trees are ash, is like watching “a tidal wave that’s taking forever to crash.”

“We’re just one truckload of wood away from it being here,” said Ralph Zentz, assistant city forester. “We’re hoping we have five years, but there’s no way of knowing.”

All of them. Immature beetles sprout from eggs laid on ash bark, burrowing into trees and feeding on the tissues that keep them alive.

Within three years of the invasion, the ash tree is dead.

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