It’s small, it’s pesky, and it’s making its way across southern Ontario.

It’s the emerald ash borer, and the City of Kitchener is spending millions of dollars to clean up its devastation.

But city officials say that’s all they can do – it’s too late to stop the insects.

“It’s unrealistic to think that we can try to control the spread of this pest,” says David Schmitt, Kitchener’s manager of environmental and urban forest projects.

“We are just trying to deal with the issues in terms of liability and cost.”

That’s why the city has budgeted $3.5 million for more than 5,000 infected trees to be cut down over the next 10 years.

This year alone, about 700 trees have been felled, mainly in the Doon South area. More are slated to come down later this summer.

Stumping and replanting the trees is estimated to cost another $6.5 million.

Schmitt says residents shouldn’t take matters into their own hands and replant trees before the city can get to it.

“It is important to remember that it is city property. There is a bylaw that states that you have to have the permission of the city to plant trees on that property,” he says.

Some residents are finding ways to clean up the ripped-out trees without running afoul of that bylaw.

Gary Hopcraft says when an ash tree near his home was cut down and ripped out, he laid down some sod to at least allow a solid lawn across the boulevard.

“It’s just not that attractive,” he says.

“It’s a nice neighbourhood and we like it that way.”

The emerald ash borer is a tiny insect which burrows into trees and lays eggs under the bark, cutting off the tree’s circulation.