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RAPID CITY, S.D. -- The South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) is encouraging residents who purchased wreaths and other evergreen decorations from chain stores to bag items and dispose of them in a landfill to stop the spread of the invasive insect elongate hemlock scale (EHS).
EHS was found on wreaths and other evergreen decorations sold at chain stores in Minnesota and Wisconsin this December. “The insect has now been found in South Dakota on wreaths and other live holiday greenery, but not on Christmas trees,” says Greg Josten, state forester with the SDDA.
EHS is native to Asia and resembles small, light, yellow-brown bumps on the underside of needles, less than one-sixteenth inches long. It was introduced into New York from Asia around 1900 and has since spread to much of New England, west to Ohio and south to the Carolinas. The insect had not been found on conifers in South Dakota’s region until this recent discovery in the wreaths.
The principal host for EHS is the eastern hemlock, a rare tree in South Dakota. However, it also attacks spruce trees, which are a native tree to the Black Hills and among the most common evergreens in communities and windbreaks across the state.
“Wreaths and other live evergreen decorations purchased from chain-stores should not be placed in compost piles or used as mulch,” recommends Josten. “If these materials are infested, the eggs will still hatch this spring and the young insects will move to nearby spruces. Instead, place any wreaths or evergreen decorations that were purchased from chain stores in bags and dispose in the landfill.”
Agriculture is a major contributor to South Dakota’s economy, generating $25.6 billion in annual economic activity and employing over 115,000 South Dakotans. The South Dakota Department of Agriculture's mission is to promote, protect and preserve this industry for today and tomorrow. Visit us online at http://sdda.sd.gov or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
From South Dakota State News