Every year over 33 million Christmas trees are brought into our homes and decorated for the season. There is nothing like the smell of pine, the twinkling of lights and the cozy feeling we experience at this time of year.
While we may all casually check that our tree is squirrel free, we often forget about the other critters that we may be bringing in. Alternatively, some of us may go above and beyond what is needed and take things a step too far. Up to 25,000 insects can live in one tree so let’s talk about Christmas trees, insects and what you really should be doing when you bring that tree home.
Firstly, and most importantly, please do not spray your tree with an insecticide when you get it home! While this may seem like the simplest solution to prevent any issues, most sprays are flammable, and you can be setting yourself up for trouble. Here are some steps to take to minimize bringing critters home with your festive décor:
Shake, shake, shake. Not only does this dislodge all the loose pine needles you don’t want to bring inside, but it dislodges the majority of the guests taking a ride in the tree. Most tree farms will do this for you before wrapping the tree, but it never hurts to do it again after the trip home.
Use a flashlight and check through the tree for a nest or anything else you may want to remove from it before you take it inside.
Set your tree up in its base and let it sit in your garage for a day or two before moving it inside. Some of the insects in the tree may wake up with the warmth (although let’s be honest, it’s Texas, and its already pretty warm!) and wander away.
Vacuum under the tree regularly once it is inside. You will probably do this anyway to keep the needles picked up, but in doing so you will vacuum up any stowaways that may be heading off on an adventure.
Keep the water under your tree fresh. Stagnant and dirty water makes a lot of insects happy, especially mosquitoes!
If you are thinking, “this doesn’t apply to me, we have a fake tree,” you may be right. But consider where and how you store your tree. It’s still a good idea to give it a good shake, especially if you store it unwrapped in an attic space. The bugs may not be able to feed from it, but it can do a good job of creating a home for your attic dwellers (especially spiders).
You can expect the following bugs in a Christmas tree: spiders, mites, aphids, adelgids, bark beetles, praying mantises and sawflies. All of these will die along with the tree, so there is no need to worry unnecessarily. Every insect requires food and water to live, just like us. Survival, on what is essentially a dead tree, is not possible and these insects will not take over your home.
So, while the tree you bring home may have a lot of unwanted visitors, there are easy steps you can take to get those removed. Once you have followed our steps above you can relax and enjoy your beautiful decorations and the Christmas season!
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