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Is your old Christmas tree harbouring a pest?

With Christmas Day celebrations over and the tidy-up beginning, Victorians are being asked to check their Christmas tree for giant pine scale before disposing of it.

Giant pine scale on branch
Giant pine scale on a branch. Photo: David Smith, Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources

The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources is asking people to check their Christmas trees for the exotic insect pest that lives on the sap of pine, fir and spruce trees and is covered in white, waxy cotton-like secretions.

Victoria’s Chief Plant Health Officer, Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith, said the pest was first detected in Melbourne’s east earlier this year.

Before Christmas it was also found south-east of Melbourne at Tyabb, which is  near a number of Christmas tree farms that would have supplied trees to people outside of the area.

She said public assistance and awareness will play a key role in helping eradicate it.

“Before disposing of your tree, please make sure you check it for pine scale and report any signs of white and waxy secretions to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881,” she said.

“Alternatively, people can email photos of the suspected pest, along with their contact phone number and location to [email protected].

“We also ask that you dispose of your old Christmas tree, either on your own property or through local council green waste systems.

To find out more about the affected zones, giant pine scale and view some photos of what an infested tree looks like, please visit the giant pine scale page on the Agriculture Victoria website.

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