There are lots of perks to getting a real Christmas tree over a fake one. For one thing, you get to take that fun family outing to a Christmas tree farm, find the perfect Evergreen, chop it down, and take it home.
Then comes even more fun: Setting it up next to the fireplace, decorating it with your collection of ornaments and tinsel, and listening to your favorite Christmas tunes.
There’s only one thing that puts a damper on getting a real Christmas tree: Bugs.
That’s right—unfortunately there could be a lot of gross critters hiding between those pine needles.
You might be thinking, “Well, wouldn’t I have noticed insects in my tree when I cut it down and hitched to the top of my car?”
Probably not actually—it’s not uncommon for bugs to go dormant in the frigid temps, so they’re hard to see. The problem is when you bring the tree into your nice warm house, they can wake up.
The good news is most of the bugs living in trees—aphids, mites, bark beetles—they’re all really small.
“Christmas tree insects are so small you’ll never know they are there and they have always been on real Christmas trees,” said Doug Hundley, the seasonal spokesperson for the National Christmas Tree Association. “On a rare occasion a particular insect like a common aphid may crawl off a tree and be noticed by the family, but these are harmless hitchhikers.”
Besides being microscopic, most of these bugs aren’t going to cause you any harm. Still, if the thought is bugging you (we’re so punny), know that they’re pretty easy to get rid of.
First, take a good look at the under part of the branches and trunk of tree. These are typically where bugs might lay eggs. If you happen to see any, cut those branches off and dispose of them.
You might also want to let your Christmas tree sit in the garage for a few days before you bring it up to your living space. The reason for this is if there are any eggs that you don’t see, they may hatch in the garage, and you’ll avoid a praying mantis showing up on the couch while you’re watching TV.
If you really want to get your tree up, a quick way to get any bugs off is to shake the tree vigorously so that they’ll fall out. You might want to do this over a white tarp so that you can see any buggers that fall out. (As a bonus, hopefully you won’t get as many pine needles all over the carpet!)
If this grosses you out, take a vacuum to the tree, which might be able to suck up any bugs living on there, or even eggs too.
If you’re really worried about insects in your tree, you can invest in a mechanical shaker from the tree farm, which can shake the eggs out.
“Sometimes it’s a few dollars extra, but it’s always worth it,” Western Exterminator entomologist Nancy Troyano said.
Did you know that bugs could be living in your Christmas tree? Have you ever spotted any bugs or eggs before?