Christmas is a season of joy, lights, candy, and of course, Christmas trees. The problem is that although bringing a fresh Christmas tree can bring the holiday cheer, it can also bring unwanted pests.
Don’t let pests take over your Christmas here; we will discuss the common pests that live in your Christmas tree and five ways to get rid of them.
Common pests that can live in Christmas Trees
- tree mites
- bark beetles
- bark lice
- Pine Needle Scale
Let dive into a little more detail about each of these critters.
Although usually active in the spring, Aphids love to eat the sap from Christmas trees. Although not harmful to you, they may make your Christmas tree not last as long, and this is very short-lived as they tend to die when brought into your home quickly.
It probably isn’t a poisonous baby spider on your tree, and it is most likely a tree mite, and they’re harmless to humans. Although harmless to you, they cause the needles of your Christmas tree to fall off early, and your tree won’t last as long.
Although bark beetles can bite, they are more of a harm to your tree than you. Unfortunately, not just your Christmas tree; if they can get to other wooded indoor plants or your yard, they can kill those trees as well. You will know if you have them if you notice holes in the bark or you start seeing more brown needles. The key is if you see a dead branch, prune it and dispose of it in a plastic container so they can not get to more wooded areas.
Unlike the bark beetle, the bark lice aren’t necessarily bad; in fact, they generally prevent fungus and are a sign of a very healthy tree. According to Harris County Horticulture, they are great for digesting dead bark, algae, and other organic materials. That said, your home isn’t nature, and who wants to see a winged bug on Christmas. We will discuss getting rid of them more in detail later in the article, but luckily, washing your tree off with water will get rid of bark lice and their webs off your Christmas tree.
Pine Needle Scale:
According to Michigan State University, Pine needle scale is a serious pest to Christmas trees. They can be tough to identify if picking a tree in the snow as they are white-scaled insects that cover the needles.
Yes, it sounds like aphids, and they are closely related, but if you were to talk to a bug expert, they are not the same. Chances are you might have adelgids on your Christmas tree, but still call them aphids. The most significant difference between them during the season and other aphids is that they are easily mistaken as patches of snow due to their white waxy feel.
The good news is most of the typical Christmas tree pests are not harmful to you and only to your tree. Regardless of whether they are harmless, you probably don’t want them in your home, especially when guests are over.
How to prevent and get rid of Christmas Tree Pests
- Inspect your tree before you buy it
- Shake your tree before bringing it in
- Let your tree sit in the garage
- Spray with insecticidal soap.
- Maintain your Christmas tree
Inspect your tree before you buy it
When you buy your Christmas tree, make sure that there are no dead branches or bugs on the tree when you buy it; if it is snowy, try brushing off the snow to make sure that the snow-like look isn’t pine needle scale or adelgids.
Shake your tree before bringing it in
Shaking your tree is one of the biggest things you can do to prevent bugs from entering your home. Removing any dead branches or shaking off loose bugs is the best preventative medicine. It would be best if you shook your tree multiple times. The best time and place to shake your tree is where you buy it. It is crucial to shake the tree before placing it on your car, so bugs that fly off on the drive don’t become hitchhikers and enter your home.
Let your tree sit in the garage (Optional)
Waiting to bring in your Christmas tree is easier said than done because once you buy it, who wouldn’t want to bring it right away. Giving your tree a day in the garage will allow any bugs to die off naturally in your garage instead of your living room. It is also easier to treat your tree if required in a garage before it is decorated or in your living quarters.
Spray with insecticidal soap (Optional)
The idea of applying insecticide to your new Christmas tree isn’t a great idea, as an aerosol can make the tree more flammable. Also, the idea of placing potentially harmful chemicals on your most enormous centerpiece is not the go-to idea for many people. That said, some feel comfortable applying insecticidal soap as a happy medium.
This action is generally only taken if you see bugs on your tree and the previous steps did not work. It is important to note that seeing more bugs in your home doesn’t mean they came from the tree. In fact, bugs you already have in your home will be drawn to your Christmas tree as a source of food and shelter. If you haven’t, you can prevent those pests by having a routine pest control visit before or soon after placing your tree.
Maintain your Christmas Tree
Having a real Christmas tree is a lot of work, even without the bugs. The tree needs to be watered regularly, and fallen needles should also be vacuumed. When conducting these activities, you should examine your tree for pests and prune any branches that may be starting to die.
Enjoy Your Bug Free Holiday and Tree
Yes, trees can bring in pests, but you shouldn’t have to worry as long as you take primary measures. Many bugs that do enter with the tree will die after entering your dry indoor air, as well as having a lack of access to other necessary sources. Although a Christmas tree is the biggest culprit of having a pest problem during the holidays, there are many other pests to watch out for, like bed bugs. Please read our other holiday tips to keep your home pest-free.
We wish you a happy and bug-free holiday season, and if you want a pest inspection before or after you place your tree, please let us know. We serve many Overland Park and Lee’s Summit residents with regular pest control services that have their winter service scheduled around when they put up their Christmas tree.