Inspectors find fewer invasive species in Christmas tree shipment
Despite all the pounding and shaking, some creepy-crawlies still managed to hitchhike their way to Hawaii on the first shipment of Christmas trees.
State inspectors found slugs and bugs on some trees on Wednesday.
"It's a true bug and it has sucking mouth parts and sucks on a variety of seeds," said Jonathan Ho, a state Department of Agriculture inspector.
Out of the 60 Christmas tree containers that reached Hawaii this week, six containers, or 10 percent, carried non-native critters. That's down dramatically from last year when half of the containers were infested.
"Oregon really stepped up and doing what they were supposed to and, as a result, all the trees look really good. Very little needle falling and, in turn, very little insects and pests," said Ho.
Oregon inspectors demanded tree farms shake the trees more often before they were shipped to Hawaii.
Shaking the tree removes the loose needles, which can often carry bugs.
"Everybody shakes at least twice and even three time which mechanical shakers and then they bang them hard on the ground to make sure and dislodge any pests that are still hanving on top of the Christmas trees," said Dr. Helmuth Rogg of the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
Workers off-loaded six containers which didn't past the pest test and loaded the trees into a treatment container.
Once those Christmas trees are loaded up in the container, they take an extremely hot shower. Inspectors crank up the thermometer between 118-to-120-degrees. Inspectors say that's the temperature it takes to kill those bugs and slugs that may still be hidden in those Christmas trees.
After the steam cleaning, the firs will head to the stores. With the extra labor and steps involved, inspectors say don't be surprised if those tree prices go up. Consider it the price of going slug-free for the holidays.
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