The vast majority of Christmas trees sold in the United States carry little risk of insect infestation, and certainly not invasive insect infestation. However, there always seems to be an exception to the rule. In this case that exception would be Christmas trees from Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has long been home to invasive insects from southeast Asia. These insects are referred to as spotted lanternflies. Many crops in the state are at risk of becoming infested with lanternflies. These crops include grapes, peaches and timber trees. Some areas of Pennsylvania are already marked as being highly populated with lanternflies. Farmers living in these regions must use insecticides or other control measures in order to ensure that lanternflies remain off of crops. Landowners are also strongly encouraged to contribute to lanternfly control. Christmas trees that are grown in Pennsylvania are commonly exported to other states. This year, agricultural professionals working for the state of Pennsylvania have homegrown Christmas trees under quarantine in order to prevent lanternfly eggs from reaching other states.
Unlike many insects, lanternflies are willing to lay their eggs in just about any type of tree. Unfortunately for tree growers, these trees include Christmas trees. Christmas tree growers from thirteen different counties, including Philadelphia, have been forced to retain their trees. The trees cannot be removed from the growers land. Christmas trees from Pennsylvania are shipped to states as far away as Maine, Florida, and Missouri. Technically, growers can still sell their trees, but first growers must enter into compliance agreements with the Department of Inspectors. Also, growers must allow state employed experts to teach them how to properly search and destroy lanternflies and their eggs upon encountering them. According to Fred Strathmeyer, a deputy secretary for the state’s Department of Agriculture, no grower has claimed to have found lanternfly eggs as of yet. If consumers do find insect eggs, then Strathmeyer urges them to place the eggs in a bag containing alcohol in order to ensure the proper destruction of the eggs.
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