elongate hemlock scale on evergreen decorations

This is what elongate hemlock scale looks like on the underside of holiday evergreen decorations.

PLYMOUTH — If you bought wreaths, swags, boughs or other evergreen decorations from Home Deport or Menards, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture wants you to burn the decorations or bag them and throw the bag in the trash.

This is because there’s been an invasion of elongate hemlock scale. The invasive insect is native to Asia and feeds on nutrients from the underside of conifer needles, the department said in a Dec. 28 news release.

The hope is that by burning or throwing out the evergreen decorations when Minnesotans are done with them will help prevent the spread of elongate hemlock scale in Minnesota, with officials noting people should not compost the greenery.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture issued this warning after finding elongate hemlock scale on leftover greenery at unspecified Home Depot and Menards locations. The department says the retailers are cooperating and pulling the remaining greenery off their shelves.

The evergreen decorations originated in North Carolina, with officials noting other infected decorations could have been sold at other retail chains, too.

“Unless you know you purchased evergreen products from a locally grown source, residents should err on the side of caution and burn or bag and throw away your evergreen items,” Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Whitney Place said in the release. “This will help us ensure this invasive insect does not get a foothold in Minnesota.”

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture began inspecting retailers for elongate hemlock scale after officials in Wisconsin found elongate hemlock scale in greenery at several retail chains.

What is this bug?

Elongate hemlock scale had not been previously found in Minnesota, but it has infected trees in the eastern United States, Michigan and Nevada, the release said.

According to Penn State’s Department of Entomology’s website, elongate hemlock scale attach to a tree’s needles and withdraw nutrients that help the tree grow. This can cause the tree to lose its needles prematurely, and in some cases the tree gets weakened enough to allow for other insects, like hemlock borer, to attack the plant.

Melissa Turtinen is the community editor for Lakeshore Weekly News and Eden Prairie News. She's passionate about adding context to stories and informing people about what's going on in their community. She enjoys being outside, traveling and good beer.

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