Should I worry about pests in my Christmas tree?
I know what you are thinking, don’t we have enough to stress about this time of the year? Have some eggnog, sit back in your easy chair, and admire that tree.
Now that you are comfortable, here is something that will answer all your questions.
Every Christmas tree can harbor insects, mites or spiders. Some of these may remain on the tree until winter and could become active after being expose to the warm temperatures inside the home but before you go reach for the kerosene you must know that because these pests are associated with field-grown conifers, none of these accidental introductions are a treat to your home, its contents, or occupants.
Prevention is the best and easiest plan. Mechanical tree shakers, available at some retail lots, are useful in removing some insect from the trees. Vigorously shaking the tree before bringing it into your home will serve the same purpose, and will also remove any loose needles.
Bird nests, although considered decorative by some people, may contain bird parasites such as mites and lice and they should be removed by hand. Any egg masses on the trees, including those of Praying Mantis and Gipsy moth, should also be removed.
Control of these temporary invaders should be limited to non-chemicals. Aerosol insect sprays are flammable and should NOT, under any circumstances, be sprayed on the Christmas tree.
Insects occurring on the tree should be left there until the tree is removed. Any that collect on ceilings or walls can be eliminated with a vacuum cleaner. It is important to remember that these “critters” are normally found outdoors, on live trees. Warm temperatures, low humidity and lack of appropriate food conditions typical of most homes will usually kill these invaders in a short time.
You can of course buy an artificial tree and sidestep such issues, but you can never entirely put out of your mind the knowledge that the classic bristle and wire fake tree was originally devised by a manufacturer of toilet bowl brushes.
Thus the eternal dilemma, you can take the antiseptic route and celebrate sterility. Or you can embrace biological reality with the knowledge that every so often you are going to think: my Gosh, this is gross!