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State holds up half of Christmas tree shipments due to pests

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 02:52 p.m. HST, Nov 23, 2012

State officials said today that they have held up about half the container shipments of mainland Christmas trees because they are “widely infested” with non-native pests including banana slugs, which can carry the rat lungworm parasite.

Shipments of Christmas trees from the Pacific Northwest are being held for treatment by the Plant Quarantine Branch of the state Department of Agriculture, officials said.

“As of today, agricultural inspectors have inspected 150 shipping containers of Christmas trees and wreaths from six maritime voyages. Of the 150 containers, 74 were or are being held for pest identification or improper paperwork,” the department said.

According to the department, of those 74 containers held:

>> Six have been treated and released

>> 15 were released due to low risk pests of pests that are already found in Hawaii

>> Four were sent back to the shipper at the shipper’s request

>> And 49 are being held pending treatment. 

Infested containers are being treated either by shaking each tree in the container or by hot-water treatment, depending on the type of infestation, officials said. Trees with wasp infestations are being shaken, while the hot-water treatment is being used for slug infestation.  

“The department realizes that Christmas trees are a treasured holiday tradition,” said Carol Okada, manager of the Plant Quarantine Branch.  “We are doing our best to treat and clear the trees as soon as humanly possible.”   

The shippers are being required to provide labor power to unload, shake and reload Christmas trees under the inspectors’ supervision, state officials said. 

They said that the concern about the slug infestation is that they may carry the parasite Angiostrongylus cantonensis, or rat lungworm, which causes a disease that affects the human brain and spinal cord.

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allie wrote:
I have had to slow my delivery of pizza in Waikiki because of noisome "pests" called men!
on November 23,2012 | 02:09PM
honopic wrote:
What has that to do with Christmas trees or this article, allie? Why do you comment on almost everything you read in the SA and make it about you? This is not your diary, and several other people have told you how irritating most of your comments are.
on November 23,2012 | 04:22PM
copperwire9 wrote:
I think she must love it when people get exasperated at her. Strange, eh?
on November 23,2012 | 08:01PM
Aquarius1 wrote:
I think Allie is not a she, but a he with a white billy goat beard, white hair, bald on top with a skinny greasy pony tail. Hehehehe!
on November 23,2012 | 08:38PM
localguy wrote:
Every year like a nightmare we get this same story, incoming Christmas trees have some contamination. So why can't the state send inspectors to the tree loading areas to check them first? Cost could be spread among all the containers, not a big deal as buyers would be sure of getting their full load of trees to sell. As much as I slam UH Manoa for management dysfunction, finding a way to naturally kill any pests on the trees would be a boon for our economy. Hmmmm, wonder if this is too much of a challenge for them? Perhaps we need a quality mainland learning center to work this out, kill them at the source. Come on people, this is not rocket science, come up with a simple, efficient way to solve this infested tree problem. Take the challenge.
on November 23,2012 | 04:27PM
goodday wrote:
you think it's cheaper for us to pay people to go the mainland to inspect trees there instead of just inspecting them here? They will need hotel, flight, meals, and ground transportation paid for. I guess everything is so simple to you.
on November 23,2012 | 06:10PM
Maiapilo wrote:
Its great to hear the State Ag guys doing well at what they are supposed to be doing. The Ag folks do what they can and I'm glad it made the paper. Governor needs to increase their funding.
on November 23,2012 | 06:46PM
copperwire9 wrote:
Good post; thanks.
on November 23,2012 | 08:02PM
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