Raise your had if you're Team #RealTree. We get it. There's nothing like marching out to a farm to hand-pick the star of your holiday decor or the fresh scent that fills your home for the rest of the season. But there's one thing you need to make sure you cross off of your to-do list before bringing home your freshly-chopped-down tree: Making sure critters aren't living on the trunk or branches.
Since tree bugs go dormant during the cold months, you might not notice them at first. But once the tree is inside your warm home, they'll wake up. Yikes. And apparently there could be up to 25,000 bugs in one Christmas tree. Double yikes! So what kind of insects should you be on the look out for, exactly?
Alphids are brown and black little guys with six legs - watch out, some have wings.
Adelgids produce little white masses that suck sap from spruce needles.
If you spot tiny red specks crawling on your tree, it's probably scale insects.
The name bark beetles says it all: These dark brown bugs burrow themselves into tree trunks.
Other insects include psocids (small, winged, grey creatures), praying mantis', mites, and ticks when the weather is unseasonably warm outside.
The good news is if you go to a farm, most have mechanical tree shakers to take care of crawling critters. "A mechanical shaker will usually dislodge any potential intruders and eggs, in addition to getting rid of loose pine needles," Nancy Troyano, a medical entomologist and director of technical education and training for pest control company Rentokil Steritech, told Realtor. Or you can shake the tree yourself in the parking lot.
To confirm no unwanted guests made it home with you, do a quick inspection with the help of a flashlight. Things to look for: Bird nests, egg masses, and, of course, bugs themselves. Then leave your tree in the garage for 24 hours before decorating. During the rest of the season, vacuum the floor around your tree regularly.
The one thing you should skip? Bug sprays, which are often flammable and don't mix well with Christmas lights. After all, a few critters is nothing compared to a tree on fire.
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