Sleighing Christmas Bugs From Your Tree
There is really nothing quite like a real Christmas tree. From picking it out and chopping it down yourself, to decorating it and smelling the delicious fragrance in your home, the experience is truly fantastic. Therefore, many are willing to put in the extra effort and time picking the tree, setting it up, and then later disposing of it.
But in addition to cheer, opting for a real tree over the holidays can come with the risk of Christmas bugs!
Christmas tree pests may have been hibernating in your hand-picked tree as you blissfully migrated them into your warm and inviting home. Did you know, a single Christmas tree can harbour up to 25,000 bugs?
Before the above number stops you in your tracks, don’t fear! There are steps you can take to help you avoid selecting an infested tree. Plus, we’ll let you know how to get rid of any tiny hitchhikers that made it past your initial inspection.
Possible Christmas Bugs You May Find On Your Tree
Unfortunately, there are many insects that feed on pine trees or wait out winter in evergreens. The below list doesn’t cover every creepy-crawly you may find in your tree, but it covers the more common culprits you’ll likely find in Canada.
Many of these insects are quite tiny and are built for life in a Canadian winter wonderland. That means that they are unlikely to survive for very long once the tree has been brought inside, as your home is too warm and dry to be sustainable for them.
Found in the lower boughs of trees, aphid infestations commonly reside in evergreens, pines, balsam firs, spruces, and white fir trees.
If you find an aphid on your tree, it’s important not to panic and squish them on any nearby furniture or clothing. This will likely result in purple or red stains that last for much longer than the holiday season. Aphids are not harmful to humans, so there is no need to fear your family’s safety. However, as with other insects, they are still household pests so it’s completely understandable that you want them gone.
Adelgids are tough to spot outdoors in the wintertime. This is because they very similarly resemble the coating of snow that falls on trees. They are commonly found in fir trees, white pines, Norway spruce, and Scotch pines.
Pine Needle Scale
Like the name suggests, the aptly named pine needle scale look like small, white scales on the needles or branches of your tree.
If you fail to miss those specs, you certainly won’t miss the bright, tiny red bugs when they’ve hatched. Pine needle scales are regularly found in Scotch pines, Norway spruces, and Douglas-firs.
The biggest and arguably baddest of the bunch, bark beetles are Christmas tree pests that can reside in the tree’s bark.
Look for small holes and sawdust trails on the trunk. These are the most common signs of a bark beetle infestation for your tree.
Commonly found on Monterey pines, Coulter pines, Jeffery pines, white firs, and junipers, it’s probably less stressful to get an entirely new tree than trying to force these household pests out.
The good news? These bark beetles may bore into the Christmas tree’s wood, but they’ll leave your furniture alone. The wood your furniture is made out of is far too dry to be of any interest to them.
Additional Creepy Crawlies & Their Belongings You May Find On Your Tree
While less likely than the above, there are some larger, more fright-inducing insects you may find in your tree. You may also discover discarded nests or unhatched eggs, so be sure to give the tree a good checking over before bringing it inside.
Praying Mantis Egg Sacs
While it’s unlikely that you’ll find an actual praying mantis in the tree, you could find their eggs. By bringing the tree inside, you may fool the egg sacs into thinking it’s spring and cause them to hatch prematurely. While it’s frightening to have praying mantises flying around your house, they won’t harm you and will likely die quite quickly. They may even begin to eat each other, offering some unconventional Christmas entertainment.
This is more likely to happen in the event that you are cutting down your own tree. However cute and unique the decoration may be, it’s important to remove any nests you can find in the tree before bringing it inside. Bird nests can contain harmful parasites and mites.
Living deep inside the Christmas tree, it’s possible that you’ll find a tree-dwelling spider hiding out. However, the good news is that Canada isn’t home to any deadly tree-dwelling spiders, so you aren’t at any risk of accidentally brushing up against a brown recluse or black widow spider. However, it is important to remember that those two spiders can live in homes, so it’s a good idea to be careful when crawling around your attic unpacking last year’s decorations.
Ho-Ho-How To Keep Christmas Bugs From Your Tree
Before picking your tree, inspect the undersides of the branches and the trunk
- Remove any branches with hints of insect eggs or bird nests.
- Look for white flocking on the needles or branches. This could indicate the presence of adelgids, who secrete waxy filaments.
- If you see any walnut-sized, light brown masses, you have found praying mantis egg sacs.
- If you see any fine sawdust or holes in the trunk of the tree, skip over that tree. It could be a sign of bark beetles.
Don’t bring your tree inside right away
- Don’t set up your freshly-cut tree right away. If possible, leave your tree in the garage for a few days.
- By leaving it protected from the elements but out of your home, you’ll give any insects time to scurry off the tree before you bring it in.
- Put a disposable sheet on the garage ground, and shake your tree thoroughly, dislodging any leftover, clingy critters.
- Tidy up the area.
If You Spot Bugs On Your Christmas Tree…
First things first, bring the tree back outside and give it another serious shake to remove the stragglers. Any eggs that have prematurely hatched will quickly die in the cold. If you see any webs, insects or eggs inside once you’ve removed the tree, you can quickly clean them up with a vacuum cleaner.
Looking For An Added Layer Of Protection?
For a more assured form of pest control, consider dusting your tree with Diatomaceous Earth, or spraying it with neem oil. It’s very important that you do not spray any aerosol pesticides in your home. They are highly flammable and are often intended for outdoor use only.
The fear of Christmas tree pests shouldn’t deter you from keeping this Christmas tradition alive. Be precautionary, be proactive, and your tree should be pest-free for the holidays.
Once the holidays are over and it’s time to get rid of the tree, there are protective measures that you can take to ensure any left behind bugs go out with the tree. Read our blog here for pest-free Christmas tree disposal.
Terminix Canada can inspect, plan, and eradicate Christmas pests that come to your home for the holidays. Our techniques are safe, environmentally friendly, and long-lasting. Get in contact with your nearest Terminix Canada branch today for a FREE consultation.