It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
In the spirit of the season, my brother recently forwarded to me a Facebook post that addressed how to avoid bugs in your live Christmas tree. My relationship with technology being what it is, the link promptly disappeared, and I can no longer locate it.
Instead, I decided to write up a quick blog post on the subject of pests hitchhiking on your beloved tree and invading your home.
What Kinds of Bugs Can Hide in a Christmas Tree?
Good news! Chances are, you WON’T wind up with an invasion.
The types of bugs that live in coniferous trees don’t bite or sting, save for the odd spider here or there (rare to find on a Christmas tree). They’re also likely to die soon upon entering your home. While it’s a cozy environment for you, the warmer temperatures and drier air are not for them.
Most commonly found bugs include:
- Bark Beetles
- Praying Mantids
Here’s a handy infographic that can help you identify the bugs listed above.
Here’s How to Avoid Bugs in Your Christmas Tree
As I always say, when it comes to pest control, the best offense is a good defense. There are a few simple steps you can take to leave unwanted visitors at the door.
- When selecting your new temporary living room centerpiece, inspect the undersides of branches carefully. Look for cocoons or egg sacs. Don’t forget the trunk, too. If you see small holes with sawdust trails, it could be harboring bark beetles.
- Before bringing the tree inside, give it a good thump and shake outside to dislodge any critters.
- Remove any bird nests, as they may contain mites. Finding a nest is slightly more likely if you obtain your tree from a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm, and extremely UNlikely if you buy it at a tree lot.
- Let the tree hang out in your garage (safely propped up in a bucket of water, of course) for a few days as it “settles in.” Not only will the branches have a chance to relax and drop attractively, but you’ll also have more opportunities to spot insects before they come inside the house.
If you’re hyper concerned about creepy-crawlies, buy your tree from a tree lot at a place like Home Depot or Lowes instead of from a rural Christmas tree farm. Trees that wind up at a big box store are more likely to have been handled a lot more by the time they arrive, thus dislodging any bugs. Some stores also have their staff inspect the trees for signs of any bugs, and do not permit those trees to be sold.
Whatever you do, DON’T spray aerosol pesticides onto your tree to kill any insects you may spot. Most are flammable, and can be ignited by the warmth of a Christmas light bulb.
Realistically, though, the chances of having bugs on your Christmas tree is very minimal. Instead of worrying about bugs, I heartily recommend you focus on the magic of the moment, and enjoy the season.
Todd Stebleton is the owner and operator of Universal Pest Control, a family-owned business for over 25 years in Ormond Beach, Florida. He and his wife Natalie are proud to have built a company focused on conducting business with honesty and integrity: keeping customers first, protecting the environment, and providing trustworthy, personal service.
Universal: Honest, Environmentally Friendly Pest Control