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Utah officials warn of invasive insects on Christmas trees

Posted at 8:00 AM, Dec 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-10 10:00:36-05

SALT LAKE CITY – Officials are asking that you check your Christmas tree for unwelcome bugs.

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food is concerned about two invasive species. The gypsy moth and the pine shoot beetle could be hitching a ride on the Christmas trees transported from out of state.

These insects can negatively affect farms, trees, and grazing lands. Even the watershed is at risk from these insects.

Beyond keeping an eye on your tree, officials say you can help out by buying your Christmas tree from authorized dealers.

The commissioner of the UDAF, Kerry Gibson, says,”{I]t’s important that the public only purchase their trees from sources that are working with our team of inspectors.”

Businesses that don’t comply with the UDAF may have to be shut down or be forced to take their Christmas tree inventory out of Utah.

“As much as we don’t like taking regulatory action against Christmas tree vendors, it’s far less burdensome than the millions it would cost taxpayers to eradicate an unchecked invasive pest,” UDAF Insect Program manager Kris Watson says.

If you see unwelcome bugs on your tree, or if you want more information, you can call the UDAF at  801- 538-7100.