If you’re among the 30 million households that plan to have a fresh, live Christmas tree in your home this year, there’s one thing you should be aware of — it could have over 20,000 pests living in it! Don’t panic, most of these pests are harmless, but there are some steps you can take to pest-proof your Christmas tree.
What Types of Bugs Live in Christmas Trees?
The types of bugs that infest Christmas trees will vary depending on your location. But trees can be infested with tens of thousands of pests. The most common types of pests that make their homes in Christmas trees include:
- Bark beetles
- Praying mantises
Most of these insects are harmless to people and they won’t damage your home. It’s also important to understand that many of these insects are living in the tree, not living off of it. Christmas tree pests need humidity to survive and your home is not a suitable environment for them. Over a period of a few days, these insects will simply die of starvation or desiccation, becoming completely dry and dying off.
Getting Rid of Pests in Your Christmas Tree
Most Christmas tree farms take precautions to ensure their trees have very few pests. Pesticides are used while the tree is growing and when selling trees, most farms and lots will mechanically shake it before a customer takes it home. Additionally, there are preventive steps you can take to make sure you aren’t bringing bugs indoors.
- Inspect the tree: Thoroughly inspect your tree’s trunk and branches and prune any branches that have insect eggs or nests.
Shake the tree: Give your tree a good shake over a light-colored cloth to remove bugs, critters, and loose needles.
- Use your Vacuum: Your vacuum is not only effective in picking up fallen pine needles, it is also great at helping prevent insects from spreading. If you see aphids or other insects on or near your tree you can simply suck them up with your vacuum.
- Leave your tree in the garage: Pest-proof your Christmas tree by letting it sit in the garage for a few days will allow any insect eggs to warm up and hatch in the garage and not your home.
- Do not use aerosol pesticide sprays: Aerosol sprays are not necessary and are flammable! Insects require humidity to live, and most will desiccate and die within a matter of days.
If you do have a large infestation on your tree, you may want to take it to the tree lot you purchased it from and see if you can trade it for another one. Most lots will offer this. We also highly recommend that you do not spray any pesticides on your tree because aerosols are typically flammable. If you have any questions about Christmas tree pests or other concerns feel free to contact us. Also, be sure to read more of our blog posts for insight and tips on pests in the Pacific Northwest.