The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is encouraging residents who purchased wreathes, swags, boughs, and other evergreen decorations at several retailers to burn items, or bag and throw away items to stop the spread of the invasive insect elongate hemlock scale (EHS). EHS is native to Asia and feeds on nutrients on the underside of conifer needles.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection issued a similar warning after finding EHS in greenery at several retail chains. The MDA then began inspecting similar retailers for the insect in any leftover greenery. So far, the MDA has discovered EHS at Home Depot and Menards locations. The companies have cooperated with inspectors and are pulling any remaining product off their shelves. However, the evergreen items, which originated from North Carolina, may have been sold at other retail chains.
Minnesotans who bought wreathes, swags, boughs, and other evergreen decorations at Home Depot or Menards should burn the items, or bag them and dispose of them in the trash once the items are no longer useful for decoration. The evergreen items should not be composted.
Elongate hemlock scale has been found in the eastern U.S., Michigan, and Nevada. It had previously not been found in Minnesota.