Wis. DATCP: Holiday decorations may contain invasive species

(NC Cooperative Extension)
Published: Nov. 20, 2022 at 9:28 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - You may want to do a check on your trees and garlands before you deck the halls this holiday season, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) offered.

The DATCP is warning that invasive pests may still be in trees and other live holiday décor coming from out of Wisconsin. In prior years, plant health inspectors have intercepted multiple invasive species coming into Wisconsin from other states on live holiday decorations.

One of these species is known as the elongated hemlock scale (EHS), and has been found multiple times on fir wreaths, Christmas trees, baskets and boughs from eastern states, the DATCP said. This species, DATCP said, is a threat to Wisconsin’s Christmas trees, native hemlock and balsam fir forests.

“Since pests like EHS are not established in Wisconsin, the best way to prevent the establishment of these invasive pests is to make sure your tree or wreath was grown in a state without the pest,” DATCP Bureau of Plant Industry Director Brian Kuhn said.

To fight the spread of EHS, a quarantine rule has been proposed on out of state live decorations. DATCP inspectors have also found boxwood blight fungus and invasive bittersweet on wreaths, spongy moth egg masses on conifer trees and dead lanternflies in tree nurseries.

“It is important to check material carefully before bringing it home as a variety of pests and diseases can travel on plant material,” Kuhn added.

DATCP officials said you can do your part to protect Wisconsin’s natural resources by checking trees and wreaths for pests. EHS will commonly look like discolored needles and small brown scale insects on the underside of the needles.

Those who suspect EHS or another invasive species should take a photo and report it to DATCP’s pest hotline at (866) 440-7523 or datcppesthotline@wi.gov.

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