Posted December 17, 2021
This holiday season, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is encouraging residents to buy their seasonal decor locally to combat the invasive pest elongate hemlock scale (EHS).
EHS poses a significant threat to Wisconsin’s Christmas trees, native hemlock and balsam fir forests. The pest has been detected in the District of Columbia and 16 U.S. states, according to datcp.wi.gov.
“Elongate hemlock scale is an invasive forest insect that feeds on a variety of conifers,” said said Kevin Hoffman, a public information officer for the DATCP. “It damages trees by fluid feeding on the undersides of their needles, sapping them of nutrients. It is important to take prevention measures because EHS is very difficult and expensive to control with pesticides.”
According to Hoffman, EHS has not been found in Wisconsin Christmas tree fields or forests, but the risk of spread via out-of-state decorations is a real concern.
“DATCP plant health inspectors have discovered EHS in products shipped to Wisconsin from other states. For that reason, DATCP reminds consumers to be vigilant and purchase trees and wreaths grown in Wisconsin or in states where EHS has not been found,” Hoffman said.
Lowes Creek Tree Farm, a Christmas tree producer based in Eleva, Wisconsin, is taking precautions to ensure foliage is free of EHS and other pests.
“All of our Christmas tree fields and nursery stock are inspected several times a year and we work closely with WDATCP in monitoring our farm for any pests,” owner Therese Olson said. “At this time, all of our Christmas trees and nursery stock are inspected and declared free from any pest including the elongated hemlock scale and gypsy moth.”
For more information on EHS, visit bit.ly/3dZnzWj.