- What are Christmas Tree Bugs?
- Types of Christmas Tree Bugs
- Are Christmas Tree Bugs Harmful?
- Where Do We Find Bugs in Christmas Trees?
- Tips to Get Rid of Christmas Tree Bugs
- How to Prevent Your Christmas Tree From Bugs?
- Which Christmas Tree, Real or Artificial, Is the Best to Choose to Keep Bugs Away?
- Simple DIY Spray for Christmas Tree Bugs
With the holiday season around the corner, people uphold the tradition of buying Christmas trees for their homes. The aroma of fresh trees filling up the house is surreal. Farms open from the middle of November and start cutting trees for sale. When opting for a real tree, you must make sure the Christmas tree doesn’t come with bugs, as there stands a good chance of up to 25000 bugs living on a single Christmas tree. You will do anything possible to make sure your Christmas tree is bug-free.
What are Christmas Tree Bugs?
Many bugs and Christmas tree insects gather during the peak winter season, slumbering in tree trunks and holes. Once the tree is brought inside your home, the warm temperature will help these insects wake up, thinking that spring must have arrived, leading to an unsightly infestation.
Types of Christmas Tree Bugs
There are different types of Christmas tree insects, bugs, or critters that could be living in your Christmas tree. Know some of the most commonly found Christmas tree bugs better.
Christmas tree aphids are brown and black bugs that have six legs. They are common in balsam fir, evergreen, pine, spruce, white fir, and Fraser fir trees.
You can kill these bugs manually. It is important to keep in mind to avoid crushing them on any fabric (furniture upholstery, clothes, tablecloth, carpet, or similar things), as they would leave stubborn red or purple stains.
These little bugs are about a sixteenth of an inch long in size. They resemble aphids and are covered with dense wooly wax. Common in Eastern North America, Adelgids are found mostly on white pine, Norway spruce, scotch pine, and fir trees. They appear to be like a dusting of snow on the tree.
Their feeding practices cause your tree’s needles and branches to turn a brownish color and dry quickly, leaving your tree to starve to death if not removed on time. Although they are not dangerous or harmful to humans, it isn’t pleasant to have them around.
3. Spiders and Mites
Spiders are predators that feast on other insects on the tree. Spiders on Christmas trees will form webs and are easy to trace. Spiders are likely to die soon, as indoors is not a suitable environment for them.
On the other hand, Christmas tree mites are bugs that look like tiny red or brown dots. Crushing mites will leave red stains on your fabric, furniture, carpet, and even on ornaments. Spiders and mites are typically found on spruce trees, Fraser fir, Douglas fir, and white pine.
4. Scale Insects
Scale insects grow beneath wax covers and look like small shiny pearls or flecks of white paint. You will find them mostly on the tree’s needles or branches. The infected needles will drop early. They produce tiny red bugs upon hatching. Scale insects are commonly found on Norway spruce, scotch pine, and Douglas-fir trees.
5. Bark Beetles
These bugs are as big as a grain of rice. Although it is hard, you can still notice these bugs. They are red, black, or even brown. These bugs burrow themselves in the trunk or branches of the tree. They leave behind sawdust trails and can be identified through the small holes that they leave behind. Bark beetles are common in Monterey pines, Coulter pines, juniper trees, white fir, ponderosa, and Jeffery pine.
6. Praying Mantises
Praying mantises are one of the most common insect categories that feed on smaller insect pests. They are light tan and hold up to 400 eggs in them. Praying mantises are found on all types of trees and plants and are not specific to Christmas trees.
These are brown, gray, or white soft-bodied insects with slender antennae. Psocids are Christmas tree flies, also known as barkflies or bark lice. They have wings and can feed on fungus, pollen, or even dead insects on trees.
Are Christmas Tree Bugs Harmful?
It would help not to panic to see if you find a bug on your Christmas tree. With a live Christmas tree at home, the chances of bringing bugs along are high. While these bugs are harmless, it is still quite annoying to have them around. Bugs like aphids, adelgids, scale insects, and psocids quickly die once you bring the Christmas tree indoors as the environment inside the house is not favorable for them to survive.
Praying mantises, even if they hatch eggs, die quickly and pose no cause of concern. There are chances of tree-dwelling spiders coming as unwanted guests; however, they are also harmless to humans and pets. They may even die off before you notice them.
Where Do We Find Bugs in Christmas Trees?
Every Christmas tree harbors one or the other type of bug. Depending on the type of Christmas tree that you are bringing home, you can find these little critters in different places.
Aphids and Scale insects can be found on the lower boughs of your Christmas tree, like in the limbs, trunk, and woody parts of the tree. They are easily visible. Adelgids, closely resembling Aphids, are often found on the tree’s twigs, bark, or green parts. Spiders and mites that remain on trees mostly go unnoticed. They are found in any part of the tree, like the trunk or even on the tree’s boughs.
Tips to Get Rid of Christmas Tree Bugs
Once the Christmas tree is inside your home, bugs tend to die quickly due to dry conditions inside the house. Follow the below tips to get rid of these little critters.
1. Shake It Out
Give your Christmas tree good manual shakes before bringing it in. This works well by making these bugs jump out of the tree once you thoroughly shake the tree. You can also use a tree shaker or a leaf blower available in shops to remove these common bugs.
2. Inspect and Check It Out
Given that Christmas tree bug infestation is common, it is important to examine the tree well for any signs of bug before it is brought home. You can cut out any branches or twigs with egg casing or nest. It is a good idea to carry a bright flashlight along with you to scan the sections of needles for bugs and eggs and remove them.
3. Use Vacuum
Using a vacuum to get rid of any straggler bug around the tree is a good idea. Most bugs that live on the Christmas tree die quickly due to humidity and lack of food. Using a vacuum, you can get rid of the dead bugs, which may otherwise continue to collect under your tree daily.
4. Do Not Use Aerosols or Pesticides
Do not use aerosol spray insecticides or any other over-the-counter pesticides. These are highly flammable and pose a high risk, especially if the dried-out needles get exposed to the hot holiday lights. Thus, any pesticide is not a good option to kill and remove bugs from your Christmas tree.
Remember! As mentioned earlier, do not squash the bugs to avoid stain marks on fabric, furniture, and walls.
How to Prevent Your Christmas Tree From Bugs?
While you may think it is natural for bugs to be attracted to your Christmas tree, there are a few ways to keep them away.
1. Routine Check
The Christmas tree requires routine maintenance; hence, inspect the Christmas tree periodically to look for bugs and insects.
2. Vigorous Shaking
Vigorously shake the tree over a large cloth or sheet to remove the bugs.
3. Careful Examination and Pruning
Choose your Christmas tree carefully, prune any branches or twigs with bird nest or egg cases, and do examine the bases of the branches and trunk.
4. Daily Vacuuming
Vacuuming every day will remove the stray needles that fall from the tree daily. Do not forget to empty the canister and discard the vacuum bag once the holiday season is over.
5. Isolating Before Bringing Into Your Home
Air out your Christmas tree after you buy it. If you have a garage, you can store it there for few days in isolation before bringing the tree inside the house.
6. Spraying Cold Water
You can easily remove the most commonly found Aphids from your tree by spraying cold water. Alternatively, use neem oil to kill any bugs that still exist on the tree.
Which Christmas Tree, Real or Artificial, Is the Best to Choose to Keep Bugs Away?
Real Christmas trees keep the festive family traditions alive. A tree is a must-have for the holidays. Going to a local nursery or a Christmas tree farm to bring home a real fresh tree is not the same as taking an artificial tree out of the storage every year. Live trees do smell incredible!
Do not feel bad about choosing either of the trees. It is up to you to decide to buy a real live tree or get an artificial one. Real trees do have a little environmental impact, as they are grown specifically for the holiday season; however, they are high maintenance. If you don’t like the mess and the fuss of a live tree due to the uninvited bugs that come along or have allergies that prevent you from having the real live evergreen, you can consider buying an artificial tree.
The artificial trees are expensive, and you cannot change the size or the color of the lights year on year. However, the life expectancy of an artificial tree is more than 5-6 years and has less or no negative impact on the environment. The artificial trees also eliminate the hassle of trimming, sweeping, watering, and the Christmas tree bugs. They are made with fire-resistant materials and are easy to customize.
Simple DIY Spray for Christmas Tree Bugs
If you cannot keep those nasty bugs away, you can try this simple homemade spray to treat them instead.
1. Home-made DIY Bug Spray
What You Will Need
- 1 teaspoon of dish soap (organic or natural detergent)
- 1 cup of water
- 1 spray bottle
- Pour the natural dish soap into a spray bottle.
- Add water.
- Shake well.
- The spray is ready to use.
How To Spray
- Adjust the concentration by adding more or less water and soap to reach a perfect consistency
- Spray on the needles and branches of the Christmas tree where browning or wilted is noticed
- Check carefully for the areas which have bug problems
- Spray on the egg cases, dust trails, wooly wax, nymphs, and on the adults with the detergent spray
- Spray few spritzes on damaged needs irrespective of the bug being there
When celebrating the holiday season, having a Christmas tree decorated at home sets the mood of the festive season. With these tips and tricks, you can take decisive action of buying a Christmas tree and maintaining it through the holiday period. Now, you can enjoy the holiday with your family and friend without worrying about the nasty bugs and mites in your tree.