This pest report supersedes the pest report posted on November 16, 2004. Additions to the report are in red text.
On December 7, 2004, Michigan Department of Agriculture officials detected a quarantine significant pest, Callidiellum villosulum (Cerambycidae), in artificial Christmas trees made from wood trunks imported from China. The adult beetles were removed from the wooden portion of the artificial tree sold in a Michael’s Craft store. The product was traced back to the Polytree Company in China. Polytree was also involved with a recall last month on similar artificial trees sold at Ace Hardware. The infested artificial tree was 6 feet tall and packed in boxes marked with Polytree HK Co. Ltd. Numerous retail outlets have been identified as selling this product.
APHIS is performing further investigations and tracebacks to other Polytree shipments, as well as other manufacturers in China and Hong Kong (HK). Due to an apparent systems failure in the kiln drying process, the following actions are being taken by APHIS:
· A recall was issued for all Polytree artificial Christmas trees with natural wood trunks from China.
· Emergency Action Notifications are to be issued to retail companies and importers to ensure that known infested material is moved out of commerce. The product can be incinerated or buried in deep landfill.
· Investigations will continue of other importers and distributors of any such trees with real wood trunks to verify compliance with the import requirements.
· A request has been made to PPQ’s Center for Plant Health Science and Technology to provide a risk assessment within the next 60 days to determine the need for an interim rule to further restrict similar products made with real tree limbs and trunks.
Please advise consumers who find live insects to place them in plastic bags and freeze them. Insects intercepted should be turned over to the local Agricultural Cooperative Extension Service for identification. Information from the exterior boxes of the trees including barcodes and place and approximate date of purchase would also be helpful.
A stakeholder announcement and press release will soon be available on the APHIS website. We welcome cooperation and communication between PPQ State Plant Health Directors and State Plant Regulatory Officials on this issue.