Pests, insects can hide in Christmas trees, holiday greens

Holiday greenery and Christmas trees bring joy throughout the season, but they can also hide dangerous hitchhikers. Diseases and invasive species can make their way into the landscapes on trees and boughs brought into Minnesota from other states.

To protect the environment, the State of Minnesota is asking residents to properly dispose of greenery and trees after the holiday season.

The best option is to use a curbside tree collection or bring trees to a designated drop-off site. Check with a waste hauler, city, or county to see what services are offered in the area. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has a map of yard waste compost locations; contact locations directly to see if they accept trees and greenery.

Do not toss trees and greenery into the backyard woods or residential compost pile, which can spread the invasive species or disease.

Wreaths and other decorative greens can be disposed in trash cans.

If the local city or county does not have an organized pick-up or drop-off, the last resort is to burn the greens. Always check fire danger conditions and burning restrictions before burning and follow local ordinances.

Pests of concern include elongate hemlock scale, a small insect established in the eastern U.S. where many decorative Fraser firs are grown. Feeding damage from this invasive insect can cause the needles of hemlocks, firs, and spruces to yellow and prematurely drop. Also, boxwood blight, a fungal disease, and Oriental bittersweet, an invasive noxious weed, sometimes found on wreaths and centerpieces, can endanger native trees and other landscaping.

Those who suspect their greenery or tree may be infested with an invasive insect or disease, contact the MDA’s Report a Pest line at 1-888-545-6684,, or through the online reporting form.