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Check your Christmas tree for invasive species

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Posted at 11:04 AM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 13:04:03-05

SALT LAKE CITY — As many families bring fresh Christmas trees into their homes this time of year, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has a reminder to watch for evidence of invasive species, particularly indicators of the gypsy moth and pine shoot beetle.

READ: Help thin national forests by cutting your own tree; some families get a free permit

Though there are a number of fresh tree lots throughout Utah, the majority of those trees are brought in from out of state. Whenever trees, firewood or greenery are transported, there’s a risk for the transportation of pests.

Invasive species are known to cause between 50-80% of agriculture crop losses per year and the impact on urban forests can be devastating.

“Most people don’t think about pathways for invasive species,” said Kristopher Watson, UDAF Insect Program Manager and State Entomologist. “They see a beautiful Christmas tree or piece of wood furniture and don’t realize it could be a carrier for an unwelcome insect.”

READ: Owl rescued from inside famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree

UDAF emphasizes the importance of purchasing trees from reputable sources who work with its team of inspectors and comply with regulations and quarantines designed to stop the spread of invasive pests.

Utah State University has a page with Utah-grown Christmas tree farms and vendors.

For those considering cutting and bringing home a wild tree, the U.S. Forest Service has permit information and a list of places where fresh trees can be cut.