(WFRV) — Now that Christmas has come and gone, many are preparing to dispose of their Christmas tree. Before you do, state officials are asking you to check for an invasive pest that may affect evergreens.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is advising those who purchased evergreens this holiday season to check for the invasive pest, called elongate hemlock scale. Infested trees should be disposed of properly to prevent further infestation.
“You can leave decorations up for the holidays, but we want to make sure consumers are disposing of infested evergreens properly to prevent this pest from establishing itself in Wisconsin,” says Brian Kuhn, Director of DATCP’s Bureau of Plant Industry. “If you know your evergreen did not come from Wisconsin, or it is showing signs of EHS, make sure you dispose of it properly. Proper disposal protects our state’s forests and Christmas tree producers from EHS.”
The DATCP says those with evergreens should look at the underside of the branches – brown spots on the underside of the needles, as pictured above, are a sign of the pest. EHS attacks over 40 evergreen species, including hemlock, fir, and spruce.
This season, an infested stock was comprised of fir trees, wreaths, and décor from suppliers in North Carolina with some material labeled as “fresh from the Blue Ridge Mountains.”
All Wisconsin retailers that sold these products cooperated with DATCP, removed the items from their shelves and destroyed them. However, many items had already been sold, and it is possible other uninspected retailers also received and sold infested items.
To dispose of affected trees, DATCP says the preferred method is to burn the trees.
Prior to burning, check the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website at https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/ForestFire/restrictions.html for any burning restrictions in your area.
Another method to dispose of evergreen wreaths or décor is to bag them separately and put them in the trash. If your municipality picks up Christmas trees, you may put an infested tree out for municipal pick-up.
Officials advise consumers to prevent the pests from spreading by not composting infested evergreens or placing them in a wooded area.
For more about EHS, visit the DATCP website.