It's that time of year, the bells are ringing, the hot chocolate brewing. The treks to fresh Christmas tree lots are aplenty.
It's a question that comes up every year, do I make the jump to freshly cut tree, or hang back and dredge up the fake tree from the closet/cellar/mom's basement.
One reason for opting for the fake tree is often the ecosystem of pests you're inviting to your home for the holidays. It's easy to forget that Christmas trees were at one point planted in the ground and a suitable home for many species bugs.
We made a list detailing the most common pests to keep an eye out for, and how to prevent these guys from crashing the party.
- Look for: small, pin-needle sized black bugs with six legs. They are typically found on the lower boughs of your Christmas tree, most common in evergreen, pine, spruce, balsam fir, white fir, and Fraiser fir trees.
- Look for: white masses of woolly wax that kind of look like snow. They enjoy the sap of fir, white pine, Norway spruce, and Scotch pine trees.
- Look for: long, hard-shell cylindrical bodies about the size of a grain of rice, with red, black and brown coloring. They enjoy borrowing through the wooden branches and can also be identified by small holes and sawdust trails. They are most common on Coulter pines, Monterey pines, Jeffrey pines, ponderosa, junipers, and white pines.
- Look for: you know what these guys look like, half terrifying, half cool insects. More important, look for a walnut-sized egg mass that is light tan in color. Once brought indoors, these masses of up to 400 eggs can hatch. They can be found on any trees.
Pine needle scale
- Look for: white specks that look like a dusting of snow on branches. They are commonly found on Norway spruce, Scotch pines, Douglas-fir.
- Look for: brown cocoons that hatch black and yellow flies with markings that resemble wasps (no stingers though!). They like buzzing on and around spruce and pine trees.
Spiders and mites
- Look for: tiny red and brown dots that, upon closer look, look like mini-spiders. They like crawling on Douglas-fir, white pine, Fraser fir, and spruce trees.
HOW TO EVADE
As with any problem, the best way to solve the problem is to prevent it in the first place (wouldn’t that be nice?). If we catch you reading this before picking out your tree, follow these steps to ensure a less pest-filled holiday:
Shake your tree
Hooray for modern technology! Most Christmas tree farms have mechanical tree shakers to dislodge any insects, eggs, and loose pine needles. Be sure to check the undersides of branches and trunk. Chop off any odd-end branches that you see insects on.
Leave your Christmas tree in the garage for a few days
We recommend leaving it there for at least 72 hours, which gives you time to use a flashlight and inspect for any stragglers that wander off or around as the bugs awaken to warmer climates.
Dust with diatomaceous earth
Dust the tree with diatomaceous earth, which can be found at any local hardware or garden store. This is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock that has been crumbled into a fine powder.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU FIND BUGS
Life will be okay! There are a few ways you can get rid of your pest problems.
Grab the vac
Vacuum often and regularly under and around the tree. That hose attachment? Perfect time to snag that to suck up any mites or aphids as squashing them often leaves a hard-to-remove stain.
A few notes on spraying. In most situations, you should NOT use any aerosol pesticides on the tree as they tend to be flammable due to their propellant ingredients.
Luckily, EVADE’s formula is non-flammable and its aerosol is pressurized with non-flammable air instead of harmful VOC’s. In this case, we recommend using EVADE’s Multi-Insect Killer to kill off any eggs or adults We recommend spraying generously even if one bug as spotted, and especially if one of those egg masses we mentioned is spotted.