If your traditional household still welcomes a real Christmas tree into your house, we applaud you! There’s nothing like the smells of a real tree, and even the best of fake trees still look, well… fake. However, when you take that trip to pick the perfect tree, keep an eye out for pests. Nobody wants an insect infestation over the holidays!
Coniferous trees (those with needles) attract many small insects, easily allowing them to hitchhike into your living room. The most common trees to inhabit these pests are pine and fir trees, grown purposefully for use as Christmas trees. Many of these insects are so small that they cannot be seen unless there is a large group. Aphids are common pests of evergreen trees. When you combine an evergreen with the warmth of your home, the environment becomes perfect for overwintering aphid eggs to hatch. Mites and scale insects also inhabit coniferous trees.
Larger insect threats include bark beetles and praying mantis. Of course the cold temperatures will ensure any adult mantis are long gone, their eggs are not. Again, the warmth of your home may provide the perfect temperature for eggs to hatch, in which case hundreds of tiny mantis will be wandering your home in search of food. Unfortunately, this same circumstance can take place with spiders too!
Prevention is Possible
Although with some of our microscopic pests this can be extremely difficult to prevent, there are a few easy ways to minimize the chance of Christmas tree insects joining your family over the holidays.
When choosing a tree, inspect it carefully. Of course the perfect shape and size is important, but inspect your tree for small insects, on the underside of branches. Inspect the trunk. Reject any tree with saw dust trails and small holes on the trunk or on heavier branches. Before bringing the tree into the home, shake it vigorously to attempt to dislodge insects and spiders. Check branches for eggs and prune out anything suspicious.
Do not use aerosol pesticides on your Christmas tree. Spraying these products indoors is not safe for you or your family. In most cases any small insects that you were not able to remove from the tree will quickly die from dehydration and lack of food sources. After one to two days, you will be able to simply vacuum up any dead insects from underneath your tree.