There aren’t many things that evoke the spirit of the holidays more than the smell of a freshly cut tree, bringing the cheer of the season into your office or home. If you’re bringing in a fresh cut tree, in the excitement to decorate, don’t overlook potential unexpected guests that may have hitched a ride.
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, there are approximately 25-30 million live Christmas trees sold in the U.S. every year. And while you are bringing home plenty of holiday cheer with your tree, there could also be as many as 25,000 bugs on one tree, say experts. Most of these pests are microscopic bugs and luckily not dangerous, but there are some ways to know if they are present.
Here are the most common types of bugs found on Christmas trees:
Aphids are harmless to people and generally found in the lower, main branches of the tree. While harmless, they can give some homeowners a fright, but there’s nothing to worry about. They are common in evergreen, balsam fir, spruce, Fraser fir, and white fir trees. Here is a tip when it comes to aphids: Don’t squash them on furniture or carpet. They can leave a purple/reddish stain.
Spiders and mites
Commonly found on Douglas fir, white pine, Fraser fir, or spruce trees, mites can cause needle loss and can leave small red stains on carpet or ornaments. And of course, since many people have an aversion to spiders, seeing one on your holiday tree might not be a welcomed sight. Be sure to check for egg sacs so that freshly hatched spiderlings don’t make your home their new home.
Bark beetles are cylindrical, brown or black wood-boring insects that are about the size of a grain of rice. Signs of a bark beetle infestation can include small holes in the branches or trunk or sawdust on your floor. These pests are common on Monterey, Ponderosa, and Coulter pines, as well as white fir and junipers.
Less common than other pests, the sawfly is typically found on spruce and pine trees. You might spot them first by brown cocoons, which later hatch into black and yellow flies.
Praying mantises can be found on many types of trees. As adults, they are typically green and can grow to be quite large. However, on trees, they may start as part of a light tan, walnut-sized egg mass that can contain up to 400 eggs. Those eggs can hatch a few weeks after being inside. Contrary to popular belief, it is not illegal to kill a praying mantis. However, it is bad luck to do so in some cultures. These harmless pests can be captured and set free outdoors.
What you can do about Christmas tree pests
Although some of these pests sound threatening, there are ways to avoid bringing pests in on your holiday tree. Follow these steps for a pest-free, beautiful tree in your office or home:
- Before bringing it inside, do a thorough inspection of the tree. Do so in good light so you can spot any irregularities, spots, or signs of pests.
- Ask the tree lot attendant to vigorously shake the tree, in order to shake off any pests that might be present. Some tree lots have tree shakers for this purpose.
- Leave the tree in a garage or covered area other than where the tree will be decorated and displayed for a few days before bringing it inside.
- Before bringing the tree inside, get a white sheet or drop cloth and shake the tree one final time. If you see anything abnormal on the drop cloth, you may want to reconsider that tree.
- Finally, if pests are seen inside, use a vacuum to safely and easily remove the pests. If you are seeing large numbers of pests, call your pest control provider.
For all of your pest control needs, during the holiday season or any other time of the year, you can count on the experts at Rentokil Steritech to keep your property pest-free. Give us a call or send us a message today.