The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) recently warned that holiday evergreen decorations, including wreaths, boughs, swags, porch pots, etc. may be infested with Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS) which appears as hard brown waxy spots on the underside of needles. EHS can reportedly survive winter weather, composting, and pesticides, allowing the insects to spread to other hemlock, spruce and fir trees.
The City of Middleton has typically advised homeowners to discard holiday wreaths in their brown trash cart because the wire holding boughs together cannot be chipped or mulched. As an alternative, the City has typically advised residents that they may disassemble wreaths and set boughs out in spring for collection as yard waste. With the recent advice of DATCP, the City of Middleton is asking for special treatment of evergreen boughs this year.
If you bought wreaths, swags, boughs, or evergreen arrangements at a chain store for the 2018 holidays:
• Do not set the evergreen materials out for City collection.
• Do not compost the evergreen materials.
• Do not take the evergreen materials to the Purple Cow Organics compost site on CTH Q.
• Please treat the evergreen materials as being infested with EHS.
• Place evergreen materials in a plastic bag, label the bag “invasive species”, and place it in your refuse (brown) cart. The reason for labeling the bag is just in case it would break open, so that the driver will know to collect the material, and not reject it.
DATCP reports that to date, EHS has not been found in Wisconsin’s forests or Christmas tree fields, but has been found on some cut Fraser and balsam fir Christmas trees. Without advice to the contrary, as usual, the City of Middleton plans to collect holiday trees during the month of January.
For more information on Elongate Hemlock Scale, see https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Programs_Services/EHS.aspx.
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