EAGLE COUNTY - With each new day, city officials in Aspen find more dead or dying aspen trees. They say the culprit is a tiny insect known as the Willow Scale.

The latest count puts the number of dead trees in the hundreds.

"I would say we're in a little bit of a pickle here," said Stephen Ellesaperman with Aspen Parks and Open Space. "I'd say 20 to 30 percent (of trees) within the core of our community have some incidents of this insect."

Each day, he spots more brown leaves due to the tiny red insects.

"We are losing multiple and dozens of these a month," Ellesaperman said about the trees.

The Willow Scale feeds on the water and nutrients in the tree until it is dead. Then the bug moves on to the next tree.

"They seem to be constantly spreading," said Chris Forman, an Aspen forester.

The bugs are easy to spot, forming black or red bumps on the white bark, but not much is known about them. The bugs are also targeting cottonwoods.

"They have been under the radar up to this point," said Forman.

The town is trying to keep the aspens healthy with water and regular pruning schedules and is also trying a new spray to see if it kills the bugs.

"We don't have a lot of knowledge about what this insect is, what its lifecycles are or how it can be treated or effected," Ellesaperman.

Whatever the solution, Ellesaperman hopes they will find one soon if they want to save the trees.

Town officials do not think the Willow Scale will destroy Aspen's entire aspen population, but are concerned.

"It would be difficult to imagine this community without those in them," said Ellesaperman.