BOUTTE - Your pre-cut Christmas tree may be crawling with bugs, but don’t worry, says an expert - they’ll probably stay put on the tree, and even if they don’t, you can suck them up in a vacuum cleaner.
But whatever you do, don’t mist your tree with bug spray. It’s flammable and the residue could turn your holiday display into a fire hazard.
“Every Christmas tree can harbor insects, mites, or spiders,” says James Stimme, of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
“Some summer bugs may remain on the tree into winter and could become active after being exposed to the warmth inside the home.
“Although many will stay on the tree, a few may be attracted to sources of light, including windows. But none of these accidental introductions are a threat to your home, its contents, or occupants.”
Preventing introduction of these "pests" into your home is the best, and easiest, plan. Mechanical tree shakers, available at some retail lots, are useful in removing some insects 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. They should be removed by hand if not dislodged by shaking.
Any egg masses on the trees, including those of praying mantids and the gypsy moth, should also be removed.
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, walls, or windows can be elminated with a vacuum cleaner.
Here’s a rundown of the bugs you might find on some trees: aphids, bark beetles, mites, praying mantids, psocids, scale insects, pine tortoise scale and striped pine scale, spiders.