One of the first things we think of doing to bring the Christmas spirit into our home is adding a live Christmas tree. These trees smell great and are an excellent way to harbor the holiday spirit. I mean, after all, who doesn’t love a Christmas tree?
But before you gather around the tree to open presents remember that your tree (if live) spent quite a lot of time growing up outdoors, and there is a host of critters that could be calling it home. Don’t fear, however, the wildlife that comes along with your Christmas tree is not dangerous and does not pose a risk to your home. It’s just that you might not want to invite them to your Christmas party.
A very common insect and very probably on your Christmas tree, this is a six legged creature that can measure one-eighth of an inch. They are generally wingless and remain on the tree throughout their lives, but if they manage to produce offspring a winged variety may occur. Unfortunately, when you bring the tree indoors, it mimics the conditions of springtime and their life cycle springs into action, and this is why you might be dealing with a host of hatchlings in no time.
The most common variety of aphid is the Cinara aphid and is found mostly on pines, spruces, balsam fir, Fraser fir, and white fir trees. But it should be noted that they are host specific, meaning, they can only survive by feeding on certain plants, in this case, your tree.
There are many species of mites that could infiltrate your home. They are most commonly found on douglas-fir, white pine, Fraser fir, and spruce trees. They overwinter as adults and become active when exposed to the heat of your home. They usually stay on the tree where they prey on insect and mite eggs. They are generally so small that they will go unnoticed, but they are tiny and light colored (if you are looking for them). There is one variety that is quite a bit larger and is bright red; they are relatives of chiggers, but in the adult state is harmless.
Often your tree might come with an old bird’s nest in it. These should be removed before they enter your home because there are a few species of bird parasites (mites) that could end up hitching a ride.
These act as predators to the insects already found on your tree and are no danger to humans. They might be creepy, but they’ll actually keep the bug population of your tree under control. If you have spiders on your tree, they are either an overwintering species or spiderlings that hatched when exposed to the heat of your home. However, these spiders are meant to be outdoors and will often die off not too long after being introduced to the indoors.
The worst things that could happen from spiders in your home is they could spin a few webs which are easily removed with a vacuum cleaner or brush.
Keeping bugs out
There are a few preventative measures you should take if you don’t want insects to invade your home over the holidays. First, inspect the branches and the tree trunk of your tree, making sure there are no visible egg sacs or other infestations. Second, let the tree sit in your garage for at least a day, so the insects have a chance to vacate the tree. Third, shake the tree vigorously before bringing it indoors. And lastly, you could spray neem oil on your tree, and it will kill all remaining insects, but you should never spray insecticides because they are flammable.
But if you want to avoid the bugs altogether, why not opt for a fake tree. It’s just as festive, and there won’t be any unwelcome guests at your holiday gathering.
PennState College of Agricultural Sciences. Insect Advice from Extension – Bugs and the Real Christmas Tree http://ento.psu.edu/extension/christmas-trees/information/bugs-and-the-real-christmas-tree Accessed: December 12, 2016.
About Education. Keep Your Christmas Tree Free of Bugs http://insects.about.com/od/insectpests/p/xmastreeinsects.htm Published: November 21, 2016. Accessed: December 12, 2016.
Safer Brand. 7 common Christmas tree bugs and how to get rid of them http://www.saferbrand.com/blog/common-christmas-tree-bugs-how-to-get-rid-of-them/ Published: November 14, 2016. Accessed: December 12, 2016.
Youtube. Does your Christmas tree have bugs? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5flu9iuqdY Published: December 23, 2014. Accessed: December 12, 2016.