Everyone loves a Christmas tree. When they’re all set up with ornaments and lights, they’re absolute glowing beacons of the season. Some of us get artificial trees, but for the most part, there is nothing that beats the real thing. Besides enjoying the fresh pine smell in your home in the lead up to the holidays, we definitely enjoy the fun of going out to pick out a tree.
But did you know, that sometimes these freshly cut trees can be infested with little creepy crawlers that are hibernating within the pine needles? If you didn’t, consider yourself warned. According to tree experts, there is a quite common pest that calls Christmas trees home, and those would be Aphids. Aphids are little black and brown bugs that have six legs and wings. Yuck!
And they’re not the only ones that like Christmas trees. There are also bugs called Adelgids, which produce little white masses in order to extract sap from the spruce needles. And while you’re looking at trees, if you spot tiny red specks crawling around, you’re most likely looking at scale insects. You also need to keep an eye out for bark beetles – dark brown bugs that burrow themselves into tree trunks, making them very hard to spot. And if all those bugs don’t make your skin crawl then just know that there could be 25,000 bugs in just one Christmas tree!
And these aren’t just the only bugs you’d have to combat in a tree. Other critters that might be lurking within the branches are psocids (small winged gray creatures), praying mantises, scale insects, spiders, moths, weevils, webworms ticks, and mites. Obviously the idea of having an infestation around your house is pretty scary, but thankfully most “tree farms” will shake off and take care of anything that might be hiding within their trees. Usually, this is achieved with a mechanical shaker.
A mechanical shaker is used to help dislodge any potential stowaways, as well as getting rid of the loose pine needles that would then make a mess once you get it home. So there really isn’t any need to panic since most of these bugs are just scary more than an actual nuisance. Besides, most of these bugs will only live in the tree rather than the environment around – in fact, they will only really venture out of the safety of their tree once it dies and begins to dry out.
However, bugs are bugs and precaution is never a bad idea. So in order to make sure you don’t have any unwanted house guests for the holidays, it wouldn’t hurt to have a look with a flashlight before you bring it into your house. That way, you can look for egg sacs and creepy crawlers. Plus, it doesn’t help to leave your tree in the garage for 24 hours before you start the decoration. And for those of you who want to use bug spray on the tree, DON’T! While it might seem like the logical thing to do to avoid bugs, it actually makes your tree flammable which is not a good mix with Christmas lights.
A few prevention tips to avoid bringing bugs into your house this Christmas season are as follows:
1. Examine the underside of branches and the trunk.
2. Leave the Christmas tree in your garage for a few days to allow any egg sacs to warm up and hatch in the garage instead of your living room.
3. Vigorously shake the tree to get out any bugs.
4. Use a vacuum to suck up any bugs or eggs on and around your tree.
5. Use an insecticidal powder instead of aerosol pesticide. And do it outside rather than inside your home. And if you have pets – make sure it’s non-toxic
Happy Holidays everyone!