Choosing between a real Christmas tree vs. a fake one is an annual holiday tradition, much like the yearly debate as to whether you should spend an hour with your in-laws, or half an hour.
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. Decorate to taste with your favourite winter ornaments, and it’s a sentimental experience sitting around a real tree with family & friends.
Having said that, taking in and setting up a real Christmas tree can bring unexpected & unwanted house guests – besides those aforementioned in-laws – like Christmas tree bugs. Those Christmas tree pests were likely hibernating when you forcefully emigrated them to the warm climate of your home, where they’ll wake up thinking it’s spring time. And before you know it, you’ll have a brand new pest infestation to hang out with over the holidays.
While most of the microscopic tree insects in Christmas trees aren’t dangerous to people, there are certain species that can become problematic, contaminating common areas throughout your home.
Here are some tree pests that could be lurking under your tree amongst the presents:
Typically hiding on the lower boughs of trees, aphids on trees could be the most common Christmas tree pest people encounter. They primarily harbor in evergreens, pines, spruce, Fraser fir, and white fir trees.
If you do notice an aphid infestation, remember to avoid squashing them on furniture – they’ll leave a purple or red stain.
Pine Needle Scales.
Pine needle scales simply don’t look like tree insects – 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 pretty easy to spot). They reside in Scotch pines, Norway spruce, and Douglas-firs.
Hopefully you can pick out the brown cocoons that nest black-and-yellow sawflies before bringing them home. They’re one of the bigger Christmas tree pests you’ll encounter, assuming you have a spruce or pine tree that is.
Named after English singer-songwriter Adele (no, not really), adelgids are virtually undetectable outdoors, as they mimic a coat of snow dusting on trees. They’re commonly found in fir trees, white pines, Norway spruce, and Scotch pines.
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 the trunk, or just beneath the tree’s lower boughs, is a strong indicator of harbouring bark beetles.
Ensuring There Are No Extra ‘Gifts’ – Bugs – Under Your Tree
Follow these five precautionary steps to prevent Christmas tree bugs from breaching your home:
- During the tree-choosing process, conduct a thorough inspection of the undersides of the branches, and at the base of the trunk. Prune any branches with empty egg cases, bird nests, or that you simply deem untrustworthy.
- Don’t set up your freshly-cut Christmas tree immediately – leave it in the garage for a few days first.
- Grab an expendable white sheet, and shake your tree out zealously to toss off any stray bugs.
- Vacuum any residual tree insects on or around the tree.
- For guaranteed pest control over your Christmas tree, dust it with Diatomaceous Earth, or spray with neem oil to eliminate any bugs that’ve managed to stick around for the holidays.
Don’t let the fear of Christmas tree pests deter you from adding an important holiday tradition into your home. Most Christmas trees aren’t brimming with bugs – though you will hear about the odd horror story about praying mantis eggs hatching in Christmas trees, or aphid infestations invading homes.
Being precautionary and acting proactively should be enough to get rid of bugs that’ve hitched a ride on your tree. And if worst comes to worst, they’re a great excuse to shoo other unwanted house guests from your home over the holidays.
Terminix Canada has provided superior pest management services to the GTA for 20 years. 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.
Call us today at 905-738-6676!