Tag Archives: Christmas tree insects

How Do You Get Rid Of Christmas Tree Bugs?

Choosing between a real Christmas tree and an artificial one is an annual holiday season tradition. It’s much like the yearly debate as to whether you should spend an hour with your in-laws, or half an hour instead!

There’s plenty of upside to chopping down your own tree. A freshly cut tree adds sentience and scent to the season, lifting the holiday spirit in your home. You can tastefully decorate it with your favourite winter ornaments, and it’s a sentimental experience sitting around a real tree with family and friends.

Having said that, taking in and setting up a real Christmas tree can bring unexpected and unwanted house guests indoors. Besides those in-laws, real Christmas trees have the huge downside of Christmas tree bugs.

Those Christmas bugs and Christmas tree insects were likely hibernating when you forcefully emigrated them into the warm confines of your home. If you’re thinking, ‘why are there bugs on my Christmas tree?’, they’re probably thinking ‘is it springtime already’? Before you know it, you could have a brand-new infestation of Christmas insects to hang out with over the holidays.

While most of the microscopic Christmas tree bugs aren’t dangerous to people, there are certain species that can become problematic. These bugs on real Christmas trees have been known to contaminate common areas throughout homes.

Here are some of the Christmas tree insects that could be lurking in and amongst your presents this year:

Aphids

Typically hiding on the lower boughs of trees, Christmas tree aphids are the most common Christmas tree insects that families encounter. Christmas tree aphids primarily harbour in evergreens, pines, spruce, Fraser fir, and white fir trees.

If you do notice an aphid infestation, remember to avoid squashing them on furniture. Christmas tree aphids leave a ghastly purple or red stain when crushed.

Pine Needle Scales

Pine needle scales simply don’t look like Christmas tree bugs. They look more like white specs on the needles or branches of trees. When they hatch, however, their red exterior makes them the perfect Christmas contrast – and easy to spot. They reside in Scotch pines, Norway spruce, and Douglas-firs.

Sawflies

Hopefully you can pick out the brown cocoons that nest black-and-yellow sawflies before bringing them into your home. Sawflies are one of the bigger Christmas tree insects you’ll encounter, assuming you have a spruce or pine tree that is.

Adelgids

Named after English singer-songwriter Adele (no, not really), adelgids are virtually undetectable outdoors. This is because adelgids mimic a coat of snow dusting on trees. They’re commonly found in fir trees, white pines, Norway spruce, and Scotch pines.

Bark Beetles

These cylindrical, hard-bodied bugs are about the size of a rice grain, coming in red, black, or brown. Small holes and sawdust trails on your real Christmas tree’s trunk, or just beneath the tree’s lower boughs, strongly indicates that Christmas tree beetles are harbouring there.

How To Ensure There Are No Extra Gifts (Bugs) Under Your Tree

Follow these five precautionary steps to prevent Christmas tree bugs from breaching your home this holiday season:

  1. During the tree-choosing process, conduct a thorough inspection of the undersides of the branches, and the base of the trunk. Then prune any branches necessary.
  2. Don’t set up your freshly cut Christmas tree immediately – leave it in the garage for a few days first.
  3. Grab an expendable white sheet and shake your Christmas tree out zealously to toss off any stray bugs.
  4. Vacuum any residual tree insects on or around the tree.
  5. Dust your Christmas tree with Diatomaceous Earth or use Christmas tree bug spray with neem oil to eliminate any bugs that have managed to stick around for the holidays.

Don’t let the fear of Christmas tree insects deter you from adding an important holiday tradition into your home. Most Christmas trees aren’t brimming with bugs. However, you will hear about the odd horror story of praying mantis eggs hatching in Christmas trees, or aphid infestations invading homes.

Being precautionary and acting proactively should be enough to get rid of Christmas tree bugs that have hitched a ride inside your home. And if worse comes to worst, they’re a great excuse to shoo other unwanted house guests from your home over the holidays!

Save Yourself The Struggle And Leave Christmas Bugs To Our Pest Control Professionals Instead

Terminix Canada is backed by over 90 years of professional pest control experience. If you’re having an issue with Christmas tree bugs, or other pest control problems, we specialize in fast and environmentally friendly pest removal services. To find out more about the pest control options available in your town or city, visit our Branch Locator, find your nearest Terminix Canada branch and give them a call.

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.

Aphids

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

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.

Bark Beetles

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.

Bird Nests

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.

Tree-Dwelling Spiders

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.