The holidays are a festive time. Putting up a Christmas tree, wreath, and ornaments may be part of your tradition. But, look twice before you acquire fresh plant material for your seasonal décor this year, because there may be something lurking inside. Invasive plant pests and diseases are talented hitchhikers. They may hitch a ride on your living Christmas tree, wreath, untreated firewood, or handmade ornaments. And, they aren’t just unwelcome guests—these pests threaten local ecosystems and agriculture when introduced to new places.
Forests are at risk. If you move fresh plant material from a quarantine area, you could transport tree-killing insects without seeing them. Outdoor items can also harbor egg masses, which can look like dry mud or tan-colored fuzzy patches on surfaces. The culprit could be an invasive pest that feeds on and defoliates hundreds of plant species.