EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — A non-native insect that entered Oregon this fall on Christmas trees harvested in North Carolina has the potential to harm Oregon's timber economy, officials say.
The elongate hemlock scale is less than a quarter inch (2 millimeters) long and hides on the bottom of needles, where it feeds, Wyatt Williams of the Oregon Department of Forestry said.
About 8,000 Fraser fir trees from North Carolina came to the West Coast and were sold in large chain stores, the Register-Guard reported in a story on Friday. California officials discovered the insect after some shipments had already been sent to Oregon.
A white appearance on the bottom of needles means the tree might be infested, officials say.
The tiny insect attacks hemlock trees as well as evergreen trees native to Oregon, including Douglas fir and spruce trees. The insects cause trees to lose needles and become susceptible to other insects.
"Anytime we get an invasive species it is a concern because we don't know how it will interact with our native environment and our native species," said Danny Norlander of the Oregon Department of Forestry.
The main concern is the insects becoming established in the state. The trees shouldn't be left outside, officials said. Instead, they should be cut up and the pieces put in garbage bags and thrown away.
"That way it is sealed up," Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Jim Gersbach said. "So if there are eggs on there and they hatch, then (the insects) won't be able to get anywhere."
Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com