“O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, such pleasure do you bring me.”
So says this classic Christmas song. And many Americans agree, especially this year as they remain at home looking for things that bring them joy and pleasure. Tree farms, shops and big box stores are reporting that their live 2020 Christmas tree inventory is going faster – and earlier – than ever before.
Aside from the fresh pine scent you enjoy with one, a live tree is also eco-friendly. While they are growing, real trees convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, reduce erosion and provide habitat for many animals. Because real Christmas trees are a crop grown by farmers, after a tree is harvested a new one is planted in its place to be harvested in the future for people to enjoy as a planned crop production cycle. Plus, after the holiday is over, they are fully recyclable and biodegradable.
Oh, and there’s one other thing that might come along with your live tree this year. Bugs.
Commercially grown Christmas trees are probably going to be pretty clean, but if you like to choose and cut your own tree, that’s when you may encounter a problem. To reduce your chances of getting a buggy tree, it’s a good idea to inspect it and shake it, before decorating and enjoying it. Here are some tips:
- Begin by checking the tree at the lot before bringing it home.
- Once you get it home, shake it outdoors and wash it with a hose if you are concerned about pollen or have allergies. Then put it in water in the garage and wait at least 24 hours before bringing it inside and decorating it.
- Don’t spray trees with pesticides, as chemicals linger and flammable sprays don’t mix well with Christmas tree lights.
- Be sure to vacuum regularly around its base. This will keep pine needles off your floor, and will also snatch up any bugs that have decided to climb off the tree and go exploring. Then dispose of the vacuum bag or clean the canister afterwards.
Some of the more common Christmas tree bugs are aphids, agelgids, pine needle scale insects, spiders, bark beetles, sawflies, psocids and praying mantises. Look carefully at your tree. Scale insects and aphids are sap-feeding insects that can be found on the trunk, limbs and the woody parts of the tree. This is also where you’ll find bark beetles and psocids.
Adelgids are more likely to be found on the limbs or green parts of the tree, and they can lay eggs that are white and sac-like, with wispy webbing around them. They are pretty easy to spot against the green of the tree limbs. As for spiders, they’ll show up anywhere on your tree – on the trunk or within the boughs of the tree.
While they are gross and unwelcome, these bugs will not harm you, so don’t panic. Most of these insects prefer to eat plants, which leads to more good news: The insects that live in pine trees need the plant to survive. Eventually, the pine tree will die, and so will they. That sounds a little grim, but it’s better than having a full-on infestation.
To ensure a bug-free Christmas in your home, call a pest control specialist. Don’t let crawly critters ruin your holiday cheer!