Oregon experts warn of invasive species that hitched a ride on N. Carolina Christmas trees

KPTV photo.

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - While families celebrate the New Year, many are getting rid of their Christmas trees this week. With that comes a warning from the Oregon Department of Forestry about an invasive insect that could pose a problem if you don’t dispose of your tree the right way.

Experts say roughly 8,000 Frasier Fir trees shipped from North Carolina to big box stores on the West Coast had elongate hemlock scale, an invasive species not native to the Northwest.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture found the pest and ordered the infested trees destroyed, but not before some had been shipped to big box stores all along the West Coast. The fear is that when Christmas trees are left for weeks or months in a yard or dumped in a park or the woods, eggs laid on them will hatch and the pest may escape into nearby trees.

According to a new release from the Oregon Department of Forestry, if the elongate hemlock scale does get established in Oregon, it could be bad news for the state’s timber economy.

The pest attacks not only hemlocks, but several conifer species native to Oregon, like true firs, spruce and Douglas-fir.

The scale feeds on the underside of the needles, creating a yellowish-brown waxy layer that is present year-round.

Oregon State University Christmas Tree Expert Chal Landgren says to not dump your tree in the woods or let it sit in your back yard.

“Probably the best way to deal with it would be to cut off the branches and put it in a trash bag and put it in the regular trash,” Landgren said. “What we don’t want to have happen is have people put it out in the forest.”

The Oregon Department of Forestry recommends that if you plan to buy a Christmas tree next year to shop local; they say that will help reduce the risk the tree will harbor a pest.

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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