Thanks to Clark Griswold, we all know the importance of checking that Christmas tree for critters before bringing it into the house, because a squirrel running around indoors is one surefire way to ruin the holidays.
But there's something much smaller — and potentially much more numerous — lurking in your tree. We're talking about bugs. And according to organic gardening manufacturer Safer Brand, up to 25,000 of them. They can include praying mantises, aphids, spiders, mites, pine needle scales and sawflies, to name a few.
While such a massive infestation is rare, it's more likely that you could get several hundred baby insects and spiders on a freshly cut tree, said Laura Jesse, an entomologist with the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
The eggs would have remained dormant through the cold weather, but once you bring that tree into a warm home, they think it's spring and time to hatch.
Before you know it, what should be outside is now inside, which isn't a good thing for either party. The bugs most commonly on a tree are harmless because they don't bite or sting, so they'll be nothing more than an annoyance to you. For the bugs, however, you've given them a death sentence by bringing them indoors.
"In many cases, the newly-hatched insects and spiders wander only a very short distance before drying out and dying," Jesse said.
(Photo via Shutterstock)
Easy precautions you can take
Follow these simple suggestions to keep the bugs outside where they belong:
- Examine the undersides of the branches and trunk and prune any branches with egg cases.
- While outside, shake the tree vigorously to dislodge any bugs.
- After employing these first two measures, if you have an attached garage, it most likely will be warmer than the outside temperature, so leave it in there for a few days. This will allow the eggs to hatch in the garage, instead of inside your home.
Taking a few moments ahead of time before bringing the tree indoors can save both you some aggravation as well as hopefully the bugs' lives.
A few years ago, a couple in England learned that lesson the hard way.