Christmas Trees Get Inspection

Darcy Oishi
Darcy Oishi

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- They threatened to put a sting in Christmas.

German Yellow Jacket Wasps found in four containers of Christmas trees. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture quarantined the containers of trees after inspectors discovered the pests.

It took three hours to go through one container of 360 Christmas trees.

"We're pounding out the trees and checking everything that comes off the trees and looking for yellow jackets and anything else that might pose a danger to Hawaii's environment, people, our native species," said Darcy Oishi, of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

Among the insects found, a spider, the egg case of a preying mantis and three types of yellow jackets, but the German Yellow Jacket raised the most concern. Only one dead one was found in the first container.

"The German Yellow Jacket is a ground dwelling species, it nests in the ground and it's very aggressive," said Darcy Oishi.

German Yellow Jackets pose a significant threat to the islands because of their ability to flourish in urban areas.

"In Hawaii they would probably be able to do well because they can tolerate lower elevations and warmer climates. In some cases they have been known to nest in the walls of homes," said Darcy Oishi.

They are also very aggressive, packing a potent sting, and they have a voracious appetite.

"If you're having a picnic they'll come after your food, they especially like tuna," said Darcy Oishi

Inspectors gave the first container the green light and the trees will be released for sale.

A second container was inspected today and later cleared, another will be inspected on Friday.

The fourth container which was destined for a neighbor island, was sent back to the mainland.

Of the one-hundred-one containers of trees shipped to Hawaii, only these four had German Yellow Jackets.