Having to deal with Christmas tree bugs and other Christmas tree pests is one of the quickest and nastiest ways to ruin the holidays for yourself. Unfortunately, Christmas tree insects are a fact of nature, quite literally, and they need to be taken care of as effectively, efficiently, and quickly as possible. Whether with a Christmas tree bug spray or with any other method, the job needs to be done because you shouldn’t just bring a bug-infested tree into your home and hope that the situation will resolve itself in an easy and carefree manner.
Keep in mind that when we’re talking about insects on a Christmas tree we are not talking about just several ants or spiders. Especially in the heart of the winter season, a lot of species of insects are gathered slumbering in tree holes and trunks, waiting for the spring to come. A common and average-sized Christmas tree can hold up to 25 thousand individual insects if you’re unlucky or “just” several hundred insects if you are just a bit unlucky. And as soon as you bring said Christmas tree into your warm home, each and every one of these critters will decide that spring must have arrived and will start crawling around.
So, let’s take a quick look at the most common Christmas tree bugs, as well as what you can do to get rid of them.
- Aphids: These little critters can be found on the lower boughs of your Christmas tree. They are tiny but easily noticeable, and they are common in evergreen, pine, spruce, balsam fir, white fir, and Fraser fir trees. They can be killed manually, however, keep in mind that crushing them on any fabric, such as your clothes, carpet, tablecloth, furniture, or anything similar, will most likely leave a red or purple stain that is very hard to remove
- Bark beetles: These insects have long, cylindrical bodies with red, black and brown coloring. They are about as big as a small grain of rice so they are noticeable with bare eyes, although it can be hard. They are common in trees such as Coulter pines, Monterey pines, Jeffrey pines, ponderosa, junipers, white pines, and others. These insects borrow through the wooden branches of your tree and can hurt it quickly and severely. You can also identify them through the small holes and sawdust trails that they leave behind
- Spiders and mites: There are thousands of types of spiders and mites that can dwell on your newly purchased or cut down Christmas trees. Some are easy to notice, others – mites, in particular – look more like little brown or red dots. The three types you can most commonly expect to be swarmed with mites are white pine, Douglas fir, spruce trees, and Fraser fir. These insects are usually not too dangerous unless you’ve stumbled upon a nest of highly poisonous spiders, however, they are annoying. Mites tend to leave red stains on your carpet, furniture or ornaments as they die, plus they tend to cause the tree’s needles to drop sooner, thus ending your holiday celebrations prematurely
- Praying mantises: These large insects are not so many pests, as they are just ugly, annoying and frightening. In fact, like most spiders, they feed on smaller insect pests, so they are technically “good” for having fewer insect pests around. In fact, praying mantises are one of the most common insect types kept as pets by humans. However, most people would still rather have them doing their work outside and not in your own home. Praying mantises can be found on all types of trees and plants which makes them easy to get into your home on accident with not just Christmas trees
- Adelgids: These tiny insects are closely related to the aphids and are covered with dense woolly wax. This makes them look like a tiny dusting of snow on your tree’s needles. Adelgids are common on Norway spruce, Scotch pine, white pine, and fir trees. They are not so much dangerous or harmful as they are just ugly and annoying to have on your Christmas tree – they will destroy your tree’s needles very quickly and leave them dry with a brownish, dead color. Be mindful as they can also get on your other flowers and indoor plants
- Pine needle scale: Another pest that is harmless to us but tends to make short work of our Christmas trees, Pone needle scales are tiny and red. Their eggs look like white specs on the needles and tree branches. You can commonly find these pests on Norway spruce, Scotch pines, Douglas fir, and several other types of evergreens. As with the Adelgids, Pine needle scales remove the fluid from the needles of the tree very quickly and render them dead and ugly, plus they can quickly transfer to your other plants
- Sawfly: Tiny and annoying, Sawflies can be found on spruce and pine trees. Keep an eye out for their brown cocoons or the adult black & yellow flies themselves. Sawflies are annoying and flying insects that you simply don’t want flying under your Christmas lights or above your Christmas dinner. Their larvae are caterpillar-like and they can be very destructive to your Christmas tree, as well as to other greenery you might have in your home
The variety of insect pests that can crawl on or inside your Christmas tree is quite significant, as you can see, and these are only the more common types. With most of them, here are the main steps to take in order to keep them away from your home:
- Inspect the tree carefully when purchasing it or before cutting it down. Pay close attention to the lower branches, their undersides, and the trunk of the tree. Remove any infested branches and bird nests
- Leave the Christmas tree in your garage for several days to get rid of the insects before bringing the tree into your home
- Shake the tree as hard as possible, either outside and away from your property or in your garage. If you are doing it indoors, do it over a large sheet to gather the falling insects
- Dust the tree with Diatomaceous Earth – an insecticidal powder that contains no artificial chemicals – and then shake it off before bringing it indoors
- Spray Neem Oil on any insect, larvae or egg. Use it thoroughly before trimming the tree or when you see even just a single bug
- Vacuum regularly under and around the tree
- Do NOT use any aerosol pesticides on the tree, as they tend to be easily flammable
Hopefully, by taking these preventive and protective measures, you’ll have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!