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Common Christmas Tree Bugs & How to Prevent Them

There’s nothing quite like the smell of a freshly-cut evergreen tree filling your home to get you into the holiday spirit. But when you bring a living tree into your home, you risk bringing thousands of tree pests along. We have put together a list of the most common tree-dwellers, followed by some tips on how to get rid of these real tree pests.

APHIDS

  • Commonly found on evergreen, spruce, pine, Fraser fir, White fir, and Balsam fir trees
  • Small, brown or black in color with 6 long legs, commonly mistaken for small spiders
  • Will leave a red or purple stain if crushed
  • Host specific, will not feed on other plants around the house

BARK BEETLES

  • Commonly found on White fir, Monterey pines, Jeffrey pines, Coulter pines, and junipers
  • Small (about the size of a grain of rice), hard-bodied brown, red, or black bugs
  • Keep an eye out for sawdust trails and small holes around the trunk of the tree

MITES

  • Common in Fraser fir, Douglas fir, White pine, and spruce trees
  • Look out for tiny red and brown dots
  • Mites can leave small red stains on carpet or ornaments and may cause premature needle drop

SPIDERS

  • Common in Fraser fir, Douglas fir, White pine, and spruce trees
  • Look out for webs
  • Spiders will likely die within a short time because being indoors is not a suitable environment for them

PRAYING MANTISES

  • Commonly found on any type of tree
  • Look for a light tan egg mass about the size of a walnut (can contain around 400 eggs) – After a few weeks indoors, it will begin to hatch
  • Usually attached to conifer limbs

SCALE INSECTS

  • Most common are pine needle scale insects
  • Commonly found on Douglas fir, Scotch pine, and Norway spruce trees
  • Look out for tiny white dots on the needles or branches; once hatched, look for tiny red bugs

ADELGIDAE (ADELGIDS)

  • Commonly found on Norway spruce, Scotch pine, fir, and especially White pine trees
  • Look for what appears to be a small dusting of snow along twigs and bark

TIPS TO PREVENT UNWANTED FOREST PESTS

  1. Shake it out! – Many tree lots have mechanical tree shakers. You could also use a leaf blower for a similar effect. Manually shaking the tree before bringing it in will work as well.
  2. Check it out! – Examine the tree for any signs of the bugs listed above. Cut out any twigs or branches that you find with egg casings or bird nests.
  3. Air it out! – Leave your tree in the garage for a few days.
  4. Vacuum! – Vacuum up any straggler bugs around the tree.
  5. NO Aerosols! – Be sure not to treat your tree with any aerosol spray insecticides as these are usually flammable.

The good news is, most of these tree pests will die rather quickly due to starvation and desiccation (extreme dryness) once inside your home. The types of bugs inhabiting your cheerful tree are typically harmless and won’t cause much damage.

It is important not to squash these critters, however, as they may leave marks on walls and furniture. While it is uncommon that a live tree will become a home to every bug listed above, following these precautions and knowing what to look for will help keep your home bug-free this season!

For scientifically-tested, effective pest control during the holidays (and all year round!) that is better for the environment, try Maggie’s Farm pest control products. Our promise is that our plant and mineral-based products are developed by scientists and seasoned pest control professionals to be the most effective family of green pest control products on the market. Find out why life’s better on the farm!


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