Consumers be aware of unsuspecting insects in Christmas trees

NOTE: If you buy a real Christmas tree, you should also look for invasive pests such as hemlock woolly adelgid, balsam woolly adelgid, and pine bark beetles.

by Blair Fannin, Texas A&M AgriLife

This holiday season, consumers should be aware of unwanted critters that may find their way into homes clinging to a freshly cut Christmas tree,  said a Texas A&M University entomologist.

Dr. David Ragsdale, head of the university’s entomology department in College Station, said it’s not uncommon for insects to sometimes make their way into homes after a tree has been purchased from a tree farm or retailer. Continue reading

Resistance breeding for evergreens is beginning to yield results

by Dee Shore, NC State University

At the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, N.C., postdoctoral researcher Ben Smith patiently tends thousands of evergreen seedlings. His goal: to find at least a few that will tolerate two tiny but troublesome pests.

Part of NC State University’s Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Smith works for the nonprofit Forest Restoration Alliance. His experiments have implications not only for important area industries but also for the fate of forests threatened by invasive insects. Continue reading

Not all presents under the Christmas tree are welcome

Reposted from Insects in the City blog

The last week in November and first three weeks in December are Christmas tree season in the U.S.  All over the country, excited families take to the nearest tree lot to pick a recently cut tree for home.  Some of these trees, however, come with more than just needles and flocking.

Giant conifer aphids in the genus Cinara, are among the most commonly encountered insects on fresh Christmas trees.  These aphids form colonies on trees outdoors.  Smaller colonies and lighter infestations are often missed by the tree farm, or by a bright-eyed family out on a U-cut adventure. Continue reading

Root rot threatens traditional Christmas fir trees

From the Daily Reflector

Jeff Pollard trudged up the steep slope and stopped at a desiccated, rust-brown tree. Two months earlier, workers had tagged this Fraser fir as ready for market.

It was going to be someone’s Christmas tree. And now it was dead.

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Uninvited Holiday Guests

The following post is taken from a North Carolina pest alert written by Dr. Steven Frank.

Christmas trees like other crops have many pests that feed on them. Also like other crops, they are grown outside. Thus, many insect species may be unfortunate enough to stop for a rest just as the tree is bundled up and trucked to your local box store. Every year people report arthropods that have hitchhiked into their house on a Christmas tree. Here are a few of the most common.

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