Shipments of Christmas trees to stores statewide have stopped

Slugs, pests found inside shipping containers

Published  8:55 PM HST Nov 23, 2012
Pest
HONOLULU -

Christmas trees shipped from Oregon and Washington state brought an unwanted present this holiday season.

Shipments of Christmas trees to stores statewide have stopped after the Department of Agriculture found slugs and other pests inside the shipping containers. Each container holds about 300 trees, and now almost all of them need to be treated.

"We've been finding (them) more often now, especially now because it's been raining, so the slugs have been more commonly in the shipments for this year," said Glenn Sakamoto with the Department of Agriculture.

The non-native pests can have a devastating impact on the crops here and the agriculture department said the slugs could also carry parasites that can cause severe illness if touched.

"We want to make sure everybody gets a Christmas tree this year, however, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture is concerned about the pests that affects Hawaii's agriculture environment, and the safety of the general public," said Sakamoto.

So far trees in 74 of these containers were either treated with hot water for 5 hours or shaken.

Others, though, were simply sent back to the shipper. Stores like City Mill are worried since more than half of their trees haven't yet arrived. One City Mill store ran out of trees on Friday during the Black Friday rush.

"When 7:00 a.m. came, (we) opened up, everyone gave their numbers and all the trees were gone," said Biran Uyeno with City Mill.

Trees are on the store's wish list, but when they will get the shipments is still up in the air.

"It's not only for Oahu, but it's also statewide; stores that have been affected by the pests that we are finding recently," said Sakamoto.

Once treated the trees are wrapped up and sent to retail stores. The department said workers are making an effort the next two days to get enough trees out for the holiday sales.

If you do find a slug or other pests on your Christmas tree you should call the state's pest hotline number at 643-PEST.

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