Nothing can stop true Christmas tree lovers from enjoying the forest scent and holiday cheer of a fresh-cut pine in their living rooms, right? Well, we hate to be a grinch, but: There could be up to 25,000 bugs crawling around in any given Christmas tree.
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An infographic published by pest-control company Safer Brand warns that your tree could be infested with bugs, including aphids, spiders, mites and sawflies. Before you freak out, Safer says these bugs are mostly harmless and won’t last long in your home’s warm, dry environment. Phew!
However, that doesn’t mean that they won’t unleash a bit of mischief before they croak. Mites can cause your tree’s needles to start falling off before the holidays are over, and squishing aphids on your furniture can leave little purple or red stains.
But praying mantises might be the worst culprits. They can leave behind a walnut-size mass containing up to 400 eggs that will begin to hatch after several weeks of being indoors.
Don’t go into panic mode just yet, because there are a few ways to prevent these unwelcome Christmas guests. When buying a tree, check under the branches and on the trunk and chop off any branches you find with egg cases or bird nests.
Then leave your tree in your garage for a few days covered with a white sheet to see if any critters come venturing out. When you’re ready to bring the tree in, give it a good shake and vacuum up any bugs on or around the tree.
Finally, you can treat your tree with diatomaceous earth (an odorless powder that contains no synthetic chemicals) or neem oil to finish the job. But don’t use any aerosol sprays, as those can be flammable.
Safer Brand cites insect expert Bjarte Jordal, an associate professor at the University Museum of Bergen, who warns against getting overenthusiastic with your cleaning: “You should by no means clean or flush the tree free of bugs, as this will damage the tree,” he says. “Anyway, there is nothing to fear. You need to take into consideration that there are plenty of insects and bugs in potted plants that are regular features in most households.”
Since Norwegian pines are known for carrying the most bugs, Jordal recommends getting a locally grown hardwood tree to avoid Christmas surprises.
While you shouldn’t let these critters scare you out of a beloved tradition, you could save yourself some time and money by opting for an artificial Christmas tree instead.
What Do YOU Think?
Do you get a real tree, a fake tree, a creative alternative or no tree for Christmas? If you get a real tree, do you usually check for bugs? Does this news freak you out? Leave a comment below!