In the weeks leading up to last year’s Christmas Holiday, numerous news articles appeared online that described the risk of transporting insects into a house via a Christmas tree. Apparently, it is not necessarily uncommon to fall victim to an insect pest infestation as a result of bringing an infested tree into a home. Despite the warnings, the news was likely disregarded by a vast majority of Americans who had set up a Christmas tree within their home this past Christmas. However, as it turns out, many Christmas decorations that were sold at several major chain stores in Wisconsin, did, in fact, contain insect pests, and not just any insect pests. Authorities discovered an invasive insect species known as the elongate hemlock scale (EHS) infesting real evergreen-containing products, such as wreaths and other evergreen Christmas decorations, that had been sold at Menards, Home Depot, Kmart, Steins and Pick N’ Save. The infested evergreen decorations were distributed nationwide, and now several experts are reporting the presence of the invasive insect in multiple states.

Inspectors are urging Americans to burn their Christmas decorations in an effort to prevent the further spread of invasive EHS insects by means of decorative evergreen Christmas products that had been shipped to several US states. The infested decorations included just about any product that contained natural evergreen, including trees, wreaths, garlands, swags and branches. In addition to these items, several hanging baskets, porch pots, mugs and sleighs that contained decorative arrangements of evergreen branches have also become infested by the invasive scale insect species. According to Brian Kuhn, director of the Plant Industry Bureau in Wisconsin, anybody who purchased these items from the chain stores named above need to burn them as quickly as possible in order to contain the destructive insect species. If burning the items is not possible, then containing them within a plastic bag before dumping them at a landfill is the second, but less optimal method of containment. Oregon has already been infiltrated by the invasive insects, as they were transported to the state via Christmas trees. At the moment, the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin are seeing the highest rates of EHS infestations as a result of the widespread sale of infested Christmas decorations.

Are you willing to burn the Christmas decorations that you purchased this past Christmas in order to contribute to the EHS containment effort?