East Hawaii News

Christmas Tree Deliveries Delayed by Slugs and Wasps

November 23, 2012, 6:03 PM HST
* Updated November 23, 6:05 PM
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Christmas trees may be in short supply for a while as more than a third of the shipments from the Pacific Northwest have been held up by state inspectors.

State agriculture officials today said 53 of the 150 containers that have arrived so far have been held either because they contained invasive species or because of improper paperwork.

Twenty-one more more containers containing pests were eventually released to retailers because their contents had been treated or because the pests pose a low risk as they are already found in Hawaii.

Four of the 53 containers were shipped back to their place of origin at the shipper’s request. Another 49 containers are being held pending treatment.

The treatment consists of shaking each tree for wasp infestations or a hot-water treatment for slug infestations. The hot-water treatment is the same used to treat plant exports for coqui frogs.

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State officials said the slug infestations are a concern because some of the slimy visitors are not found in Hawaii and also may carry the parasite that causes rat lungworm disease.

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However, it is not clear whether the parasite is found in the Pacific Northwest.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rat lungworm typically occurs in warmer climates. It said “very few cases” of rat lungworm disease have been found in the continental US and the only ones cited occurred in Hawaii and Louisiana.

State officials said Christmas tree shippers are being required to provide personnel to unload, shake and reload trees under state supervision.

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The Department of Agriculture anticipates that another 100 containers will arrive in Hawaii before Christmas.

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