The Christmas tree is the pinnacle of holiday decorating but can also be a nightmare when bugs hitch a ride on the tree into your home.
Infested Christmas trees present a series of problems for the homes and neighborhoods they decorate. Pest control and prevention are essential measures when putting up a live tree for the holidays.
72tree.com collected information on the bugs that can be found on Christmas trees, how to prevent the buying of an infested tree, eliminating any insects found on the tree, and how to properly dispose of the tree.
When you go to your local Christmas tree lot, keep in mind that just a few days prior, those trees were cut down from a Christmas tree farm or a forest.
Insects may have nested in or laid eggs on these trees. The following are some of the insect species you may encounter living or hatching in your Christmas tree:
• Bark Beetles
• Needle Scale
• Spotted Lanternflies
• Stink Bugs
Note: Store-bought wreaths and swags made from live tree stems may travel thousands of miles from where they originated (potentially exposing your ecosystem to a new or invasive insect species). During the manufacturing and packing processes, bugs and the eggs they lay can easily be overlooked.
You can prevent bringing bugs into your home on a Christmas tree by following a few easy steps:
Right Time to Shop – Do not shop for a Christmas tree at night. It is easier to spot insects and eggs during the daytime.
Inspect the Under Side of Branches – Lay the tree down and get an up-close look at the underside of the branches and the trunk. Pay particular attention to the lower branches. You are looking for:
• Visible Insects
• Red or Brown Dots (Mites)
• Clusters of Eggs (Mantises and Lanternflies)
• What Appear to Be Snowflakes (Adelgids)
• White or Red Dots on Needles (Scale)
• Brown Cocoons (Sawfly)
• Small Holes in Trunk (Bark Beetle)
• Sawdust Trails (Bark Beetle)
Let It Stand – Attach the base and let the tree stand in the garage for a day or two. As a preventative measure, apply neem oil or insecticidal soap to the tree before moving it inside and decorating it.
One of the most common insects found on Christmas trees is aphids. Killing aphids and other insects can be accomplished by spraying the tree with non-toxic neem oil or a homemade insecticidal soaps. Read more about killing aphids.
For the most part, newly hatched insects and spiders quickly expire from desiccation (they dry out). However, there are those that do survive.
Beetles, mantises, spotted lanternflies, and sawflies can leave the tree and potentially make their way outside. Again, the application of neem oil and insecticidal soap can be used to control these insects.
If you spot insects or eggs on your tree, DO NOT use commercial aerosol bug sprays. There is no necessity to expose yourself and your loved ones to these harsh chemicals. And, as many of them are flammable, you risk having the tree and your home go up in flames.
For pests that have fallen to the floor or are on your furniture, avoid stepping on them or crushing them (they can leave stains, and some insects have a putrid smell).
Use a vacuum cleaner that doesn’t have a beater bar to suck them up. Then treat the bag or the receptacle with neem oil or insecticidal soap before disposing of them.
To help preserve the ecosystem in your region, avoid placing the used tree on brush piles or compost heaps. Invasive insects and diseases are able to escape into landscapes and neighboring forests, becoming established, and upsetting the native ecosystem.
When you take steps to properly purchase, treat, and dispose of a Christmas tree, these risks are dramatically reduced.
Many municipalities and counties nationwide have pickup programs established to retrieve your tree at curbside and properly dispose of it.
If you miss this service or it isn’t available, you can take the tree to a solid waste facility, dump, or landfill. This will keep any pests that may remain in the tree from spreading.
An infested Christmas tree inside your home probably wasn’t on your wish-list for this holiday season. When bugs hitch a ride into your home, you need to know how to handle them efficiently.
From this article, you have discovered which bugs can be found on a Christmas tree, what to look for when purchasing the tree, how to eliminate any bugs on the tree, and how to properly dispose of the tree once the season is over.
Your home, neighborhood, and neighboring forest are all at risk when the poor management of a Christmas tree infestation allows foreign or invasive insects to disrupt a native ecosystem. Pest control and prevention should be one of the main concerns of a live tree in your home for the holidays.