Impact Pest Elimination Blog

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Say “Bah Humbug” to Christmas Tree Pests

It’s that time of year when many of us bring a bit of the outdoors into our homes—we’re talking about Christmas trees. While the traditional practice simply seems like part of our holiday festivities, it can have some unfortunate side effects in terms of pests in our home. Sometimes our Christmas trees come with some unwelcome guests—the kind you don’t want to share a cup of eggnog with. Learn more about what to watch out for this holiday season, and how to prevent having your time with family and friends marred by creepy crawlers.

Picking a tree—real or fake?

Many people will opt for a fake Christmas tree during the holidays to avoid the hassle of maintaining a live tree or possibly even due to allergies. But with as many as 33 million real trees still sold in the United States every year, many people can’t imagine Christmas without the scent of a real pine tree in their home. What they also can’t imagine is that their beloved symbol of the season may come with up to 25,000 bugs. (Many of these bugs are microscopic and will die from starvation or desiccation shortly after you bring your tree indoors.)

Common Christmas tree bugs

The most common types of bugs you may encounter from your live Christmas tree include aphids, spiders and mites, adelgids, pine needle scale, sawflies, praying mantis and bark beetles.

Here’s what you need to know about each of these bugs:

  • Aphids—They are typically found on the lower branches, and if squashed they can leave a purple or red stain.
  • Spiders and Mites—Look for small red or brown dots on the tree. Mites also can leave a red stain behind, in addition to causing the needles to drop early.
  • Adelgids—These bugs will resemble a light dusting of snow on the branches of your Christmas tree.
  • Pine needle scale—The eggs resemble white specks and are found on the needles and branches; after hatching the bugs are tiny and red.
  • Sawflies—If you spy brown cocoons on your tree, you may soon be sharing your home with these black and yellow flies.
  • Praying Mantis—The egg mass for these insects can contain up to 400 eggs and will be about the size of a walnut with a light tan appearance.
  • Bark Beetles—Signs of this red, brown or black rice-sized bug include small holes and sawdust trails on the tree trunk.

Preventing unwanted pests

There are three things you can do to help prevent any of these unwanted holiday hitchhikers from calling your Christmas tree home this season. First, when looking for your tree, inspect the trunk and underside of branches for any of the signs listed above. Second, leave the tree in your garage for a few days. Finally, vigorously shake the tree over a white sheet before bringing it into your home to dislodge any remaining insects before bringing the Christmas tree indoors.

If the worst happens and your tree introduces some unwanted pests into your home, contact Impact Pest Elimination for assistance to ensure your holiday is merry and bright!

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