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Decoration infestation: Holiday greenery could contain parasitic insect

MILWAUKEE (WISN) — The holiday greenery hanging at your home may be hiding a damaging insect, according to the state of Wisconsin.

The state warns that an elongate hemlock scale, a parasitic insect that can spread from evergreen to evergreen, was found this year in wreaths and boughs imported from North Carolina and sold in at least five major retailers across Wisconsin.

It could endanger evergreen trees, and the Christmas tree industry and forests across the state.

“If you have a fireplace in your home, or if you have a fire pit out in your yard, burn it,” said Donna Gilson of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

If people can’t burn their greenery, the state recommends putting it out with the trash, not the compost pile or local recycling center.

“If you just throw one of these out on your compost pile, if you have any evergreens in your yard, if your neighbors have evergreens, if you have a park nearby that has evergreens, come spring, those insects could start affecting those,” Gilson said.

The state told WISN 12 News its inspectors found the infestation in some wreaths sold at five retailers, including Menards, Pick ‘n Save, Kmart, Home Depot and Stein’s, but they caution there could be others.

Gilson did say it is OK to keep your greenery if you have it, as long as you dispose of it properly

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