This Christmas, before you deck any halls, consider taking four easy steps to keep from bringing bugs into your house via your Christmas tree. Maybe if Scrooge had followed these steps, he would not have said “Bah Humbug” so much. The fact is, your Christmas tree can be home to thousands of bugs, including aphids, bark beetles, and praying mantises.
The real reason Scrooge said Bah Humbug was because of Christmas tree bugs
Most of the insects will die before you are ever aware of them. But as Scrooge said, “Bah Bugs” (he said that, too). It’s better to be safe than sorry. After all, aphids leave stains when you squish them and praying mantises can deposit hundreds of eggs that hatch several weeks after being indoors. It makes you itchy just thinking about it.
- Shake, possibly rattle, and roll your Christmas tree
After you purchase or chop down your tree, and before you bring it in the house, give it a good shake. Many places that sell Christmas trees have a “tree shaker” that encourages bugs to leave at a very high rate of speed. Otherwise, you’ll have to do the shaking yourself. Find an open space, grab the tree from the top and shake, shake, shake. You can rattle and roll too, but those steps aren’t necessary to remove bugs.
- Store your tree outside for a couple days, or take it swimming
Once you have shaken things up (and possibly rattled and rolled), put your tree in the garage or somewhere else outside for a couple of days. This will encourage any creepy crawlers to find new digs. While you’re letting your tree air out, keep it in water so it doesn’t dry out. If you have a swimming pool, even better. Place your tree on the steps of your pool. Not only will this ultra-hydrate the tree, it will send any bugs packing.
- Spray the branches with neem oil
If you are still worried about bugs, spray the branches with neem oil. This natural pesticide found in the seeds of the neem tree has been used for hundreds of years to control pests and diseases. Do not use a chemical bug spray on your Christmas tree. Most of those are highly flammable, which is not a safe combination with pine needles and hot lights.
- Vacuum around your Christmas tree
When you are ready to bring your tree in the house, keep your vacuum handy. Even after your tree is all decorated, you’ll want to make regular sweeps around the tree. If any bugs have stubbornly held their own, vacuum them up with all the pine needles that fall.
Don’t worry too much, these bugs do not consider you a good infestment
Finally, don’t worry too much. None of the bugs that call Christmas trees home sweet home pose any danger. Most of them only like to eat what they can find on pine trees, so there is very little risk they will invade your other house plants. Also, any praying mantis eggs that hatch produce baby praying mantises that are starving. These little creatures are so hungry, they will eat each other if they can’t find other food. They kind of take care the problem themselves, even if the thought of it is more akin to “The Nightmare Before Christmas” vs. “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
If you have any questions about how to de-bug your tree or which products are safe and effective, please feel free to contact us at any of the five Bug & Weed Marts locations. We promise not to greet you with Bah Humbug.