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UDAF Urges Utahns To Inspect Christmas Trees For Bugs

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While invasive species of insects pose a threat year round, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food is stressing the importance of checking your Christmas trees for unusual looking bugs.

“Well ultimately we have a concern with invasive species moving in through all sorts of pathways, and Christmas trees just happen to be a pathway this time of year,” said Kris Watson, the state entomologist for the UDAF.

 

“And so with trees coming in from all over the nation, they bring various different problematic pests, potentially,” Watson said. “If you were to see emerging insects, insects actually coming out of the tree or egg masses on the tree or anything that kind of drew interest or concern of it being a pest, we would like to take a closer look at that.”

Watson said the insects need to be inspected in order to determine if the species is invasive. Which is why it’s crucial people inform the UDAF if they find unusual bugs in their trees.

“So actually collecting the specimen and bringing it to our attention — whether you bring it here or we come and pick it up or have it mailed in, something along those lines,” he said.

Invasive species, Watson said, can have a detrimental impact.

“The environmental aspect is nobody wants to live in an environment — I don't believe — in an environment without trees, or without urban canopy providing shade and the aesthetics the trees provide in the parks and sidewalk strips, and at your home,” he said.

And it’s not just the environment that suffers.

“It cost potentially millions of dollars to eradicate a pest so that we don’t have to deal with it for generations,” Watson said.

Education and awareness of the issue is something Watson said is very important.

“It’s not something that comes to mind offhand and people don’t necessarily think about where this or that necessarily comes from,” Watson said. “And so just being able to bring it to people’s attention and bring awareness to the importance of managing and preventing invasive species from moving to the state.”