Christmas tree infestation, holiday branches, title card
Photo by Annie Spratt
Odds are great there are thousands of bugs living in your Christmas tree.

There’s nothing like trekking out to a farm to cut down your own Christmas tree. The fresh scent that fills your home for the rest of the season is wonderful. But did you know your freshly chopped down tree could be loaded with critters and bugs living on the trunk and branches. A Christmas tree infestation will ruin your holiday and live with you long after your tree is gone.

Bugs in My Tree?

Since many tree bugs go dormant during cold months, you might not notice them at first. But once the tree is inside your warm home, they’ll wake up and begin to multiply. According to the Center for Disease Control, apparently there could be up to 25,000 bugs on a single Christmas tree. That is a Christmas tree infestation if there ever was one. What kind of insects should you be on the lookout for?

  • Aphids are little brown and black bugs with six legs. Some have wings and could relocate to other parts of your house.
  • Adelgids produce little white masses that suck sap from spruce needles.
  • Scale insects are tiny red specks crawling around the branches of your tree.
  • Bark beetles are dark brown bugs that burrow themselves into tree trunks. They eat the tree from the inside out.
  • Other insects to watch out for areĀ psocids (small, winged, gray insects), praying mantises, mites, and ticks.

How To Combat a Christmas Tree Infestation

The good news is, if you go to a farm, most have mechanical tree shakers that may take care of most of the crawling critters. “A mechanical shaker will usually dislodge any potential intruders and eggs, in addition to getting rid of loose pine needles,” Nancy Troyano, a medical entomologist and director of technical education and training for pest control company Rentokil Steritech.

You can also shake the tree yourself in the parking lot. And be sure to do it before you bring it into the house.

What To Look For

To confirm no unwanted guests made it home with you, do a quick inspection with the help of a flashlight. Things to look for include bird nests, egg masses (of any kind), and the bugs themselves. Next, leave your tree in the garage (or a warmer area) for 24 hours before bringing it into the house. During the rest of the season (until you remove the tree), vacuum the floor around your tree regularly.

What not to do: Forget bug sprays. They’ll ruin the smell of your tree and the flammable spray doesn’t mix well with Christmas lights. Plus, you don’t want to burn down your house over a few lousy bugs.

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