It’s that time of year again, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, jack frost nipping at your nose, even tiny tots with their eyes all aglow. The holiday season is full of warmth and cheer bringing good tidings and joy, but if you enjoy the experience of a live Christmas tree, it can also bring some less-than-ideal insect situations. If you are one of the millions of people that enjoy the smell and tradition of picking out a real Christmas tree, then you are all too familiar with the threat of Christmas tree bugs. While they are uncommon, only about 1 in 100,000 people deal with Christmas tree bugs annually, but it could happen to anyone. Here are some tips from your local exterminators to prevent or treat Christmas tree bugs if they just so happen to hitch a ride on your tree this year.
When you move your natural tree from its original habitat, the wintry outdoors, into your heated, comfortable home, bugs that have been hibernating are tricked into thinking it’s springtime and will start to wake up. There are a few things you can do, however, to get rid of the potential Christmas critters before you bring the tree into your home. Using diatomaceous earth is a natural way to remove Christmas tree pests. Diatomaceous earth is a natural insecticide powder that uses no synthetic chemicals and has no scent. You simply dust it on the tree outside your home and then shake off the excess powder before bringing it inside. However, be careful to use the suggested amount as an excess of powder could be potentially harmful to household pets if they ingest it.
If you have a pet that has taken a liking to the mess around in your tree, another method of Christmas tree insect removal is Neem oil. It is sold in a spray form so it is easy to use and can be used indoors. It targets all insects at any stage. You can spray it on your tree before you trim it, or as soon as you spot any insects. The spray applicator makes it easy to use as a targeted treatment. Make sure not to use any over-the-counter insecticides on your tree. While it may be tempting to run the store and spray your tree with aerosol insecticides, many of them are extremely flammable. Even if Christmas vacation is your favorite Christmas movie, that is about as close as you’ll ever want to be to a Christmas tree fire.
What Kind of Bugs to Expect
It may feel icky to find bugs on your Christmas tree and can be quite a nuisance, but if you do happen to unwittingly bring in some outdoor hitchhikers, rest assured that the bugs typically found on Christmas trees are not harmful.
The most common kind of insect found on a Christmas tree is an aphid. Aphids are small black or brown insects that like to feed on the sap from your tree. Most Christmas tree farms will treat trees for aphids before they even get to the lot, but sometimes colonies can hide at the base of branches and fly under the radar. Aphids reproduce quickly, but don’t bite and are all-in-all benign. They can sometimes be mistaken for a much more problematic bug, the tick, but an easy way to alleviate tick-induced panic is to count how many legs you see. Ticks have eight legs while aphids only have six.
While it is unlikely that you will ever find a grown praying mantis on your tree, you may very well find their egg. Keep a lookout for a brown, walnut-sized mass attached to any of your branches. The heat inside your home can trigger hundreds of eggs to hatch. If you spot what looks like a praying mantis egg, simply remove that branch and put it outside for the eggs to hatch there instead of on your Christmas tree.
Perhaps the most anxiety-inducing Christmas tree pest is the spider. They are not picky and can hide anywhere on your tree. Spiders like to reside in Christmas trees because they feed on the other insects that live there. Not to worry though, the spiders on your Christmas tree are not massive, monstrous spiders that haunt your nightmares, but rather very small spiders more like you would find on a bunch of fresh-cut flowers. It is likely they will die before you even notice them.
Make sure to keep a vacuum handy. Aside from the stray pine needles that fall from your tree, there could also be insects. Your house is not a hospitable environment for Christmas tree insects. Heat and low humidity is a bad combination for most insects, so even if you miss a couple they will most likely die soon after being brought into your home.
While it is pretty easy to prevent or get rid of Christmas tree pests yourself, if the problem does snowball into a full-blown infestation, do not hesitate to call us for all your extermination and inspection needs. At Palmetto Exterminators, we are proud to serve our community with certified pest control experts. Call or visit us online to schedule a free pest inspection, our phones are always open.