New insect pest found in Christmas greenery in South Dakota


PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A new insect pest is appearing in Christmas greenery sold in South Dakota and surrounding states, South Dakota agricultural officials said Wednesday.

The pest is known as the elongate hemlock scale. South Dakota’s state forester Greg Josten said the Asian insect was detected by the state’s forest health team in wreaths last Christmas.

The insect was found on wreaths made of fir that were shipped in from the southern U.S., Josten said. The insect has appeared on similar greenery this year.

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture has put a stop order on the sale of the material. But wreath material does not have to be destroyed until after the holidays.

The insect made its way to New York and then to the southeastern U.S., where it has infested fir trees sheared to make wreaths. The insect will infest hemlock, fir and spruce trees and suck sap from the foliage, causing the foliage to become discolored and drop.

The pest has not been found on Christmas trees in South Dakota