Christmas Tree Quarantine

Gypsy Moth Caterpillar

Gypsy Moth Caterpillar

Americans enjoy cut Christmas Trees. Around 33 million trees were purchased in 2013. Many trees are grown and sold locally. However, more remote areas may ship trees long distances. There is a risk that any plant in an area with an infestation may have hitchhiking insects. This is especially relevant if Christmas Trees are grown in a quarantine area to be shipped to uninfested areas. This issue is most acute with invasive, slowly spreading pests such as gypsy moth. Gypsy moth is present throughout the Northeast US as far west as Ohio. States further to the west and south, starting with Indiana are relatively free from gypsy moth. Gypsy moth can lay egg masses on Christmas trees which could hatch in an uninfested area in the following spring. How can the spread be prevented?

Areas with gypsy moth are under quarantine. This means all Christmas Trees shipped from those areas must be inspected for gypsy moth and some Christmas Tree growers may need to document that timely sprays were used as a gypsy moth preventative. Some states with large Christmas Tree production have robust inspection and certification programs. These programs are costly to maintain, but are necessary to enable producers to ship their trees.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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