Taking the family to cut down a pine tree in December, or venturing to a lot to purchase one, can be a big event for celebrators of Christmas. It’s a tradition, a moment the family can enjoy together, and moreover, a calculated decision regarding which tree suits your needs. Is it tall enough? Full enough? Healthy enough? One thing people might not be taking into consideration, though, is whether or not it is a refuge for bugs.
Every living tree is subject to insects, mites and spiders, including Christmas trees. One simple thing you can do to make sure you bring the least amount of these critters into your home is to vigorously shake your tree outside before bringing it in. Not only will this toss away the bugs and other critters, but it will remove loose needles, making for a cleaner tree and home.
These critters are, of course, simply living on a live tree found in nature. Though it’s a natural habitat for them, it’s unlikely you’ll be thrilled to see them exiting the tree toward sources of light in your home. Most of them will stay on your tree, if not shaken off before coming into your home. Allowing them to stay provides no harm to you or your tree. Your best bet, then, is to leave them undisturbed, allowing them to exit with the tree when the holiday is over.
If you’re concerned about a tree full of crawling critters, don’t worry. The climate in your home—warm temperatures, low humidity—and the lack of food sources for them, will typically kill them soon after your tree is put up and decorated.
If you find a bird nest on your tree, you should remove it by hand since it may contain bird parasites like mites and lice. Egg masses on trees (from insects such as praying mantis and gypsy moth), if not removed by shaking, should also be carefully removed by hand.
Keep your Christmas tree fire-safe by keeping it watered. Buy it fresh, pull light plugs overnight, keep it well away from candles, fireplaces and other heat sources. Here’s more on Christmas tree safety.
Be mindful not to use any aerosol insect sprays on your tree to remove critters, since they are highly flammable. For any bugs that leave the tree and collect on ceilings, walls or windows, simply suck them up with a vacuum cleaner.