Your Real Christmas Tree Could Be Hiding Bugs

Author: Mosquito Squad of Greater Washington DC

For many families, it doesn’t truly feel like Christmas until the scent of pine from a freshly-cut tree fills the air. However, when you choose a real Christmas tree to grace your home, you may also be bringing in some unwanted house guests. The thought of critters hitching a ride on a Christmas tree is definitely a little scary, so we’re breaking down everything you need to know about not-so-festive pests.

You’d Better Watch Out

Trees live their whole lives outdoors, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they end up attracting a few creepy crawly tenants while they’re growing. Here are the insects you might find in your tree:

  • Aphids (brown and black insects with six legs, sometimes with wings)
  • Adelgids (covered with white, cottony fibers)
  • Bark beetles (dark brown or black, often bore into the trunk of a tree)
  • Mites (most species are tiny, light-colored; one is bright red)
  • Praying mantids (egg masses hatch when brought into the warm temperatures)
  • Psocids (gray or brown, winged, soft-bodied)
  • Scale insects (tiny, red)
  • Spiders
  • Ticks (very unusual, and only if it is unseasonably warm)

It’s Getting Hot in Here

Most of these insects are dormant when they are outside on the living tree, but once they are brought inside, the warm temperatures wake them up. They will either stay on the tree or disperse, sometimes toward light sources.

Don’t Panic

While no one welcomes these insects in their home, you don’t need to worry too much. These pests like to live on trees, so when they end up in a foreign habitat, they aren’t able to survive. This means bark beetles won’t start boring into your furniture, spiders won’t cause harm to your family or pets, aphids won’t start munching on your houseplants, and ticks won’t transmit any diseases in your home.

Suck it Up

These insects may not be harmful, but they certainly are annoying. Thankfully, they will likely die within a few days of being transported indoors, because they won’t have the food or proper humidity levels. The easiest thing to do when you find dead insects is to suck them up with a vacuum cleaner.

Shake it Off 

If you haven’t already put up your tree, the best thing you can do is to give it a good shake before you bring it inside. Most farms have a mechanical tree shaker that will remove unwanted hitchhikers, as well as loose pine needles. You can also just shake it yourself.

Either way, Good Housekeeping recommends inspecting your tree with a flashlight to check for birds’ nests, egg masses, and bugs. You could also leave your tree in the garage for 24 hours before you set it up.

Don’t Use Bug Spray

Whatever you do, don’t use bug spray to try to get rid of your insect squatters. These products are often flammable, which is obviously a major safety hazard for a tree covered in lights!

For advice or help controlling pests on your property this holiday season and in the new year, contact DC Mosquito Squad. Happy Holidays!