Invasive insect threatens Wisconsin trees, unless Christmas decorations properly disposed

(WISC) -- It's about that time of year to start taking down Christmas trees and decorations, but this year, Wisconsin officials are urging you to follow a specific protocol for certain evergreen items.

That includes wreaths, boughs and porch pots, because they may be infected with an invasive insect called elongate hemlock scale, or EHS, in evergreen products sold at large chain stores this season.

The infected products come from out of state, but if they aren't discarded properly, officials warn the bug could affect Christmas tree farms here in Wisconsin

"It eats away at the needles itself. It has a fungus that comes on to the bottom side," said Greg Hann, owner of Hanns Christmas Farm in Oregon. "It's not just a Christmas tree problem, I believe it should be a state problem that people should be worried about."

Hann says the new insect could mean more pesticides and higher tree costs.

It's not just Christmas tree forms EHS threatens, but native hemlock and balsim firs in forests, parks and yards too

So make sure to not compost evergreen decorations or leave them out for collection. Instead burn them or bag them and take them to a landfill like recommended by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.