Christmas trees are vulnerable to thousands of spider mites, praying mantis eggs and more.

As the halls are being decked with boughs of holly and homes everywhere are being made festive for the holiday season, it’s the perfect time of year for a Christmas visitor to come sneaking in—and we don’t mean Santa. 

We’re talking about Christmas tree pests, insects lurking in the branches and needles of the tree. Did you know that up to 20,000 bugs could be lurking in a single Christmas tree? This holiday season, we’re here to help and have a checklist of things to consider before bringing your tree into the house.

Out in nature, several types of creatures make their home in fir trees (that is, Christmas trees), so it’s no surprise that some make their way into homes this time of year. 

The fir tree is a popular residence for many different species of insect, birds, and other small animals. As you might expect, the bugs and animals who call a Christmas tree their home vary depending on the region.

Here in the Southeast, there are main insects you’ll need to look out for:

Cinara Aphids 

Common pests of evergreen trees and the warm conditions of the home may cause overwintering aphid eggs to hatch. Cinara aphids are large brown while black aphids that resemble small swollen ticks. These aphids do not bite or spread diseases and they will not feed on regular houseplants.

Praying mantis

Praying mantis eggs can hatch when introduced to the warmth of the home and if so, there can be hundreds of tiny mantids wandering in search for food.

Spider Mites

Spider mites produce fine webbing and can appear as tiny red and brown dots when shaken out of the tree. The mites also create small red stains on carpets, ornaments, or furnishings and quickly die after the tree is cut.

Adelgids

Adelgids can produce cottony secretions over their bodies that might resemble snow on a Christmas tree.

Beetles

Beetles and non-threatening spiders can also be found on Christmas trees.

Handling Christmas Tree Bugs

Say you’ve just spied something crawling creepily through your tree: what then?

There’s no need to worry—these insects are no great threat to you or your home. None of these insects are harmful to humans, and their presence is much more of a pesky nuisance than anything else.

In fact, praying mantises actually feed on other pests. They’re the type of bug you actually want to have around your house. On the other hand, the gooey egg cluster can release hundreds and hundreds of tiny mantises into your home all at once when they hatch—not exactly most people’s idea of a wonderful Christmas time.

For their part, aphids look scarier than they are. They are often mistaken for ticks at first glance, which can be quite alarming. However, while ticks have 8 legs, aphids only have 6. And unlike ticks, aphids have no interest in biting humans, and will feed only on the Christmas tree itself. 

The spider mite is the most ‘dangerous’ of the common Christmas tree bugs here in the Southeast, but that’s only because they can leave stains on furniture and carpeting. Like the aphids and the mantis, they don’t bite or pose a risk to humans.

Trust Terminix

It is important to note that none of the insects that emerge from a fresh-cut tree will cause any harm or damage to the tree, house, furnishing or occupants. Do not spray Christmas trees with pesticides, as they may do more harm than the insects themselves.

If you’d like to learn more about what to watch out for this holiday season, see this recent news story featuring one of our Regional Trainers discussing here.Hopefully, your holiday season is happy and warm, filled with visiting and cheer. But if you do have a pest problem threatening to ruin your festivities, remember that Terminix is near.

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