LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) – In recent years the emerald ash borer has begun killing trees in Boulder County. Researchers began using drones to track the voracious bugs last year. Now the practice is expanding to more cities along the Front Range.

The program involving drones started in Boulder and has expanded to Longmont to track the wood-boring beetle.

(credit: CBS)

The drone being used for the project has a special camera on it that can see details of a tree’s health.

The camera on the drone has a sensor that measures reflective light and has the ability to take infrared images, the colors of which allow scientists to actually see nutrients like chlorophyl in the leaves.

(credit: CBS)

About 15 percent of the trees in Boulder County are ash and experts say all are at risk of dying without action. All of the county is on a quarantine in which no ash trees are allowed to leave the county.

The research is intended to help Colorado deal with infestations of the emerald ash borer, and scientists believe it will change the face of urban forestry. For now, they’re keeping their focus on saving the trees.

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