RAPID CITY-Christmas greenery and wreaths could be infested with bugs and should be bagged and disposed in a landfill.
An invasive pest called elongate hemlock scale (EHS) has been discovered in South Dakota, prompting the Department of Agriculture to issue a recommendation to bag and throw out any greenery that was purchased from chain stores.
EHS is native to Asia. The small insect had not been found in South Dakota's region until this recent discovery in wreaths. They are on the underside of needles and show up as yellow-brown bumps.
"The insect has been found in South Dakota on wreaths and other live holiday greenery, but not on Christmas trees," said Greg Josten, state forester with the SDDA.
The principal host for the insect is the eastern hemlock, a rare tree in South Dakota. But, the bugs can also attack native spruce trees, which are common in the Black Hills.
"If these materials are infested, the eggs will still hatch in the spring and the young insects will move to nearby spruces," said Josten.