Did you know having bugs in live Christmas trees is pretty common?
There is a certain, special excitement that comes with picking out and decorating a Christmas tree. It’s a time where the whole family comes together to spend time preparing for the holidays.
But the gifts under the tree aren’t the only gifts your tree might be hiding…You could find your home inundated with pests, a gift you definitely didn’t ask Santa for!
Fear not, we’re here to help! Keep reading our guide on the bugs who might be hiding in live Christmas trees and how to prevent these infestations.
Types of Pests on Christmas Tree Bark & Needles
In the first part of this guide, we’ll take a look at the types of pests you can find living on a live Christmas tree. Most are harmless, but it’s still unpleasant to have them crawling around your home.
These are small sucking bugs that leave behind a cotton-like wax filament on branches. It almost looks like a light dusting of snow.
These pests are lazy but have a good grip on their home. Adelgids won’t fall from the tree unless you use a good bit of force.
Sometimes you might find them clustered together in weird formations.
Most types of aphids are small and inactive; it’s not likely you’d even notice them on Christmas trees. However, few species do grow large enough for you to see.
You would most commonly find aphids in the lower branches. These pests can only survive on this tree type; in other words, aphids can’t spread to other house plants. Avoid squishing them as they leave a purple or red stain on any furniture or wall surface.
Bark beetles are cylindrical, hard-bodied bugs, ranging in color from black and brown to red. These beetles usually grow to be the size of a grain of rice and get their name from their favorite activity, burrowing into bark.
On a live Christmas tree, you might notice holes with very fine sawdust. You don’t need to worry about your furniture though, they’re not like woodworms. These bugs need humidity to survive, and the wood in homes is too dry.
Mites & Spiders
Mites and spiders can also live in a Christmas tree but they won’t harm it. These pests live there to feed off the other critters calling your real Christmas tree home.
These bugs hatch from an egg mass that is about the size of a walnut and light tan in color. There could be as many as 400 eggs inside each mass, and they hatch a few weeks after being indoors.
Sometimes you can find egg cases on the tree branches still. Once praying mantises are hatched, they will hunt the other bugs living on the tree or turn on each other if no other food is present.
If you spot the egg mass on a branch, remove that branch and take it outside to prevent it from hatching in your home.
Psocids are small, winged insects also called booklice or bark lice. These bugs feed on sources like:
- Dead insects
These bugs are usually the first to die when they come into dry, indoor air. Psocids aren’t like usual lice and won’t feed on people or pets.
Pine Needle Scale
Pine needle scale eggs look like white specs or white paint on tree needles. Once the eggs hatch, which takes a few weeks after the tree comes inside, little red bugs emerge.
You may also see these bugs on the floor or nearby wall surfaces. On the tree, you can clean them up with a damp towel but they can leave a stain behind if killed on a different surface.
How to Remove Bugs in Live Christmas Trees?
This process should start when you’re looking at trees. You should take time to examine them. Not only does this help spot pests but also ensures you get the perfect Christmas tree for your home. It’s good to take a bright flashlight with you to see right into those tight needles.
Look at the branches to see if anything moves on them. Shine your light onto the trunk, branches, and into the needles. You want to look for live bugs, webs, and egg sacs. If you see any, either don’t buy that tree or plan to cut off that branch.
Before you buy a real Christmas tree, ask the attendant to give it a good shake. This should shake off a lot of bugs that currently live on the tree. Some tree lots will have a shaker for this very reason.
Let It Rest
When you get it home, leave it inside a shed or garage for a few days to let it sit. If there are bugs in the tree, they should die off due to a lack of food.
Give It Another Shake
Come back and put a sheet down on the floor under the tree. Give it another good shake to remove any dead insects. You should see them fall right onto the sheet.
Don’t leave the bugs on the floor as they could be food for other pests like mice. Either sweep them up or vacuum them, and if you used a sheet, give it a good wash.
The Safe Way to Get Rid of Bugs in Live Christmas Trees
If bugs from your Christmas tree do get inside your home, it’s best to vacuum them up. Once you suck them up, empty the canister or change the cleaner bag.
Place this into a larger trash bag that you can seal up. You can then put them in an outdoor trash can or dumpster. One thing you should never do is use OTC insecticides on or near your tree.
Many of these are flammable, and the heat of your Christmas lights could be enough to start a fire. Some places recommend using diatomaceous earth, a powder that dries out insects.
However, this powder doesn’t work very fast, and as such, homeowners can use too much. This can cause a hazard to your pets who might get it on their fur or ingest it.
If you feel like the bug problem is too hard to handle, then take the tree out of your house. This should remove the problem, and your best bet is to choose an artificial one or get a new, live tree.
Don’t Let Bugs in Live Christmas Trees Ruin Your Holidays
So, there you have it! Now you know the types of bugs in live Christmas trees and how to prevent them.
While they may not be harmful, no one wants an army of creepy crawlies wandering around their home. But by examining the tree, shaking it before bringing it home, and letting it rest, you can prevent this from being an issue this holiday season.