As cynipid gall wasps continue wreaking havoc on the Vineyard, Eversource Energy hopes to protect its main utility lines by removing a large number of trees that it says are damaged or dying as a result of the outbreak, which began about four years ago.

Hundreds of blue ribbons appeared along roads in Edgartown, Vineyard Haven, West Tisbury, Chilmark and Aquinnah in May, marking the damaged or threatened trees.

Eversource has identified about 800 trees so far, and plans to seek permission from property owners to remove them beginning as early as this fall. Official notices went out to homeowners on Tuesday by mail.

Removal of damaged trees aims to protect utility lines. — Mark Lovewell

“This is going to be a long process,” Eversource spokesman Michael Durand said, speaking to the Gazette by telephone this week. “Once we compile the list of trees, which we are still doing, not only do we have to get approval from towns, but we have to get approval from private homeowners if they own the tree.”

Many of the trees also grow on state property, which would likely add another level of cooperation.

Eversource (formerly NStar), which is the Vineyard’s sole electric utility provider, plans to contact town tree wardens beginning in July. But as of this week, officials in all five towns said they had heard little or nothing about the project.

“Nobody has informed me of anything,” said West Tisbury tree warden Jeremiah Brown, although he has noticed the blue ribbons along the roads. “That would be nice if somebody told me.”

Eversource conducts regular pruning on the Island. A response to the gall wasp outbreak began in 2012 with the removal of about 1,500 trees along the roads.

The damage results largely from the growth of larvae inside the twigs, which disrupts the plants’ vascular systems, preventing the flow of water and nutrients. The wasp takes its name from the galls it induces on branches for growth of the larvae. Symptoms may include delayed leafout in the spring and the loss of summer foliage, along with swollen twigs covered with tiny cavities.

An aerial survey by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation last year recorded 4,571 acres of gall wasp damage on Cape Cod and the Vineyard, up from 2,711 acres in 2014. Damage was mapped in all Island towns except Vineyard Haven in 2013, with the biggest areas in Chilmark, Edgartown and Oak Bluffs.

DCR forest health program director Ken Gooch said Martha’s Vineyard was the hardest hit area in the state last year. He added that the presence of both gall wasps and gypsy moths has caused widespread tree mortality on the Island.

Most of the trees tagged this year are oaks, but the list includes a number of mature pines and other species. The selected trees range from about an inch and a half to more than a foot in diameter.

Mr. Gooch said a number of systemic pesticides are in development to help protect the trees, but it’s too soon to know if they all work. In general, he said, the healthier the tree, the better its chances of survival. But in some cases removal is the only option. He said the DCR recently spent $110,000 to remove 850 oaks from Nickerson State Park in Orleans, another area hit hard by the outbreak.

Mr. Durand said the proposed tree cutting on the Island would benefit towns and property owners, as well as the utility, since many of the trees are already dead or severely compromised. Eversource arborists have been working with ACRT Inc., based in Akron, Ohio, to identify trees that pose a risk to the system.

The state Department of Transportation recently removed 37 trees along the south side of Edgartown West Tisbury Road that it said were unhealthy or posed a safety risk to drivers. The Eversource project includes the same area, but on the other side of the road. It also includes South Road in Aquinnah, Chilmark and West Tisbury; State Road in Vineyard Haven; and Old County and Edgartown Vineyard Haven roads, also in West Tisbury.

A representative for the state Department of Transportation said in May that the state had no plans for additional tree cutting on the Vineyard in the near future.