Slimy slugs and crawling critters hitch ride with Christmas trees
Slimy slugs and crawling critters are just some of the insects that hitched a ride with Christmas trees to Honolulu.
Department of Agriculture inspectors received the largest shipment of trees for the holidays on Sunday.
There were 70 containers carrying all together nearly 35,000 Christmas trees. The wish list for the Department of Agriculture was that this largest shipment for the season come in clean and free of pests. However, with some shaking and pounding, the trees yielded some winter tourists.
"We found some slugs, some ground beetles, some caterpillars and one earth worm. We did find some of the critters that we don't want to bring to Hawaii," said Helmuth Rogg with the Department of Agriculture in Oregon.
The pests captured were bottled up.
"Slugs for the most part are really bad agricultural pests and they can potentially be vectors for human diseases," said Jonathan Ho with the Department of Agriculture, Hawaii.
The infected containers were closed, marked and quarantined. They will be put on hold until the critters inside are identified.
"It's not looking too good. We've done four and we've held up two, so we'll see," Ho said.
The tree inspectors said they are much more optimistic this year than last. Only 10 percent out of all the trees shipped in have been infected so far compared to 50 percent last year.
"What happened last year is I think the shippers got complacent. As a result 50 percent of the containers got held up," said Ho.
Most of the trees are shipped in from Oregon, but the Oregon agriculture inspector was on hand this year saying his department made triple the effort to physically shake the trees and inspect them before shipping them to the islands.
Another 32 containers will be shipped in on Monday. A few more are also set in the next couple of weeks. The trees will then get graded and shipped off to stores statewide.
In all, more than 100,000 trees are expected from the Pacific Northwest.
Infected trees will be power washed and distributed to stores or shipped back to the tree farms.
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