Keith and Jennifer Kaminski knew something was wrong when healthy leaves began falling off the large oak tree in front of their home on Lamar in Farmington.
They looked online for information and called in an arborist, who delivered the bad news: The tree had oak wilt and needed to come down.
"The arborist said the tree is about 100 years old," Keith said. "It's one of the biggest trees on the street."
The Kaminskis suspect that the disease hit when limbs came down after strong storms blew through a few weeks ago. Arborist Steve Martinko of Contender's Tree & Lawn Specialists said they may be right.
"Storm damage is a high risk, because the open wounds leave room for beetles to spread oak wilt quickly," he said.
By the time a homeowner sees the signs of oak wilt, Martinko said, it's too late to save the tree. The best bet is to keep an eye on neighboring trees. "Leaves falling down in the summer is not a good sign," he said. "That's an instant red flag."
An arborist can inject a fungicide into the tree trunk, but even that may not be enough if the tree is under stress or had other problems. The disease spreads either through roots or by the beetles, who chew on one tree and then move on to the next, Martinko said.
Jennifer bought the couple's home 14 years ago; they married in 2006. Along with being disappointed at the loss of their own tree, they are also concerned about what will happen to others in the neighborhood. Already, the tree next door is showing signs of the disease.
"The sad part is ... you probably lose close to $20,000 in value on your house," Keith said. "And you can't plant again."