There’s nothing like the feeling of going out to a Christmas tree lot, choosing the perfect tree with your loved ones, and bringing it back to your home to decorate. While many people have started to go for synthetic Christmas trees, there are still a ton of benefits to getting a real one. In fact, over 33 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States every year. However, if you choose a real Christmas tree, you need to be on the lookout to make sure your tree isn’t bringing unwanted pests into your home.
Common Christmas Tree Pests
These tiny, sap-sucking insects can be almost invisible to the naked eye. However, they reproduce extremely quickly, so once an infestation starts, it can get out of hand in no time. You’ll usually find these pests on the lower boughs of your Christmas trees like evergreens, pines, balsam firs, spruces, Fraser firs, and white firs.
- Spiders and Mites
Mites living on your tree will most likely look like tiny red and brown dots. They cause needles to drop prematurely and can leave small red stains on your carpet or ornaments. Mites are usually transferred to trees from birds. Spiders that hitch a ride inside your home on your Christmas tree are probably there because they’re feeding on other insects hiding in the tree. If you see spiders in your tree, it’s a sure sign there are most pests in there too.
- Bark Beetles
These beetles are cylindrical, hard-bodied, and red, black, or brown in color. They’re pretty small – about the size of a grain of rice – and will leave small holes and sawdust trails on the trunk of your Christmas tree. You’re most likely to find them on white firs, Monterey pines, Jeffrey pines, Coulter pines, and junipers.
These are just a few of the most common Christmas tree pests, but there are many more. In fact, up to 25,000 pests can be living on a single Christmas tree. Luckily, almost all of these will be microscopic and completely harmless to humans. They’ll most likely die from starvation soon after you bring your tree inside. However, it’s still best to take steps to prevent pests from entering your home.
How to Prevent Christmas Tree Pests
- Shake your tree vigorously before bringing it inside. Some Christmas tree lots will have mechanical shakers that do the work for you.
- Inspect your tree and prune any branches where you find insect egg cases.
- Leave your tree in the garage for a few days before bringing it inside. This will give the majority of the pests a chance to die out before they can make their way inside.
- Vacuum around the tree regularly.
- Dust with diatomaceous earth and shake off the excess before bringing it inside. Diatomaceous earth is a powerful insecticidal powder that doesn’t use synthetic chemicals and won’t leave any unpleasant odor behind.
- Do NOT spray your tree with aerosol pesticides. These are highly flammable, and tree decorations like lights and candles can cause them the catch fire.