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Buy local evergreens to avoid invasive plant pests in your holiday decorations

Posted at 2:34 PM, Nov 22, 2020

WISCONSIN — The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is urging Wisconsinites to buy local this holiday season in order to avoid pests in your Christmas tree.

DATCP is also urging Wisconsinites to double-check their trees before purchasing to make sure the trees are safe and do not have any pests.

The DATCP said in prior years DATCP has detected invasive insects on products from other states. Last year, an invasive pest called elongate hemlock scale (EHS) was found on Fraser and balsam fir wreaths, trees, baskets, and boughs from eastern states. EHS is a threat to Wisconsin’s Christmas trees, native hemlock and balsam fir forests, and decorative evergreens.

“One simple way to avoid EHS is to make sure your fir tree or wreath was grown in Wisconsin since this pest has never been found on the landscape in our state,” said Brian Kuhn, Director of DATCP’s Bureau of Plant Industry. “EHS can survive on cut trees and wreaths for weeks, even in harsh winter weather. You can help protect Wisconsin’s natural resources and Christmas tree industry by checking trees and wreaths for this pest, or by purchasing items grown in states without EHS, like Wisconsin or other states further to the west.”

To see if your tree, or the tree you're considering purchasing, doesn't have pests, look for yellow or brown needles and small brown, oblong spots on the underside of the needles.

If you suspect EHS on fir wreaths or Christmas trees, please report it to DATCP’s pest hotline at (866) 440-7523 and if possible, email a clear, close-up picture to datcppesthotline@wi.gov.

For more information on EHS, click here. And for a list of local tree farms and retail lots, click here.

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