Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how lovely are the bugs in your branches. A living Christmas tree can have up to 25,000 bugs living in it. Many of these bugs are hibernating inside the tree and when you bring them into your warm home, they can wake up and want to explore. Most of these insects are harmless, and will often dry out and die off before even leaving their tree home.
However, you should by no means clean or flush the tree free of bugs, as this will damage the tree. Anyway, there is nothing to fear. You need to take into consideration that there are plenty of insects and bugs in potted plants that are regular features in most households.
Some of the bugs that make their home inside Christmas pines are:
- Aphids, found on the lower boughs off evergreens, pines, spruces and firs.
- Spiders and mites, found on Douglas firs, white pines, and spruce trees.
- Adelgids, which look like a dusting of snow.
- Pine needle scales, whose eggs are tiny white specs found on needles. They’re red when they hatch.
- Sawflies, which look like brown cocoons that hatch yellow and black flies.
- Praying mantises, which are usually light tan, walnut-sized egg masses. They can hatch after several weeks indoors.
- Bark beetles, which are red, brown or black bugs the size of a grain of rice. Look for holes and sawdust trails on the tree trunk.
But there are preventative steps to make sure your home isn’t surprised by any creepy crawlies.
When choosing a tree, check the branches and trunk for evidence of eggs or birds nest and prune them. Christmas tree farms, however, should have made sure there are as few insects as possible.
After choosing a tree, it should be shaken in a garage over a white sheet and left for a few days to toss off any insects. Dusting the tree with diatomaceous earth or spraying with neem oil should kill any remaining bugs left on the tree, but be warned that aerosol pesticides are a bad idea since they’re easily flammable.