East of the College of Music

Location: East Lansing, MI 48823, USA


To the west, the two large trees standing apart from the rest are elm trees. There were once thousands of elms on the 5,200 acre campus of MSU. Elms were very popular shade trees and had been planted on many public spaces and along urban roads. In the 1930s, Dutch Elm Disease began to spread across America. It was accidentally introduced from Europe through imported logs. Dutch Elm Disease is caused by a fungus called Ophiostoma . The fungus blocks the vascular system of the tree, preventing water and nutrients from reaching the branches and leaves, and eventually the tree dies.

Elm bark beetles can spread the fungal spores as they burrow in trees and move from tree to tree. These beetles were the target of a spraying campaign using DDT that began at MSU in 1954 and was expanded in 1955 and the following years. The aim was to kill the beetles and hopefully to restrict the spread of the fungus. DDT was sprayed from the ground using rotomist sprayers and from aircraft. Ground sprays in 1960 comprised a 12½ per cent solution of DDT. In the late 1960s, DDT was replaced by another insecticide, methoxyclor.

Today there are just over 780 elms on the campus of MSU, and managing Dutch Elm Disease remains a high priority of the university Landscape Services. Blanket spraying is no longer used to control elm bark beetles. Instead, trees are injected with the fungicide Arbotect, to directly control the fungus. Every elm on campus receives this treatment once every two years.

Walk north. You will see Cowles House, the traditional home of the president of MSU, to your left. Turn sharp right at the first walking path.

Order: Stop 4

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