POLK COUNTY — The Oregon Department of Agriculture found a tree-killing invasive pest on some Christmas trees that were brought to Oregon from North Carolina.

“As far as we know, Home Depot and Lowe‘s stores received Fraser firs from North Carolina, in Oregon and other western states,” said Andrea Cantu-Schomus, ODA director of communications.

Oregon Department of Forestry Invasive Species Specialist Wyatt Williams said, “throwing your old Christmas tree into the woods or leaving it in your yard may spread the elongate hemlock scale (Fiorinia externa),” according to an ODF news release.

ODA ordered the infested trees destroyed after the pest was found, but some trees had already been shipped, according the ODF.

“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,” the news release states. “If the elongate hemlock scale does get established here, it could be bad news for the state’s timber economy. The pest attacks not only hemlocks but several conifer species native to Oregon, such as true firs, spruce and Douglas-fir.”

ODF suggests next year, Oregonians consider buying a locally grown tree because that reduces the risk it will harbor a pest introduced from another part of the country.

Email the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Forest Health Unit at wyatt.williams@oregon.gov if you suspect you have found the elongate hemlock scale.

ODF states it may be safest to cut up such trees and place them in garbage bags for disposal in a closed garbage bin.

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