Christmas Tree Pests: What To Do About Bugs On A Christmas Tree

Green Christmas Tree
christmas bug
(Image credit: by-studio)

While “the more the merrier” is usually a great motto during the holiday feasting, your welcome might not include insects. Yet, the conifer you carry proudly into the living room may be host to Christmas tree bugs.

There’s really nothing dangerous about the bugs on a Christmas tree, so no need to get too upset. It’s enough to be aware of these Christmas tree pests and take a few simple precautions to prevent them from sharing your holiday.

Bugs on a Christmas Tree

It’s lovely to drive by a Christmas tree farm in autumn and see all the young conifers just waiting on their holiday moment. It also reminds us that the trees are grown outdoors, and, like any other outside plants, they may be home to overwintering bugs or insect eggs.

A conifer is a pleasant spot for bugs like aphids or bark beetles to live for the winter. Christmas tree insects find the young tree a well-protected place to live through the cold and snow of winter months.

The Christmas tree insects living on a tree outdoors are waiting for spring to become active. When you bring the tree into your home, the bugs are warm and think that spring has come. This doesn’t happen as often as it might, since experts estimate that only one in 100,000 trees will house Christmas tree bugs. In case yours does, though, it’s a good idea to know what to do.

Preventing Christmas Tree Insects Indoors

In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but don’t even consider spraying your tree with pesticides. First, you don’t want your family exposed to pesticides and what’s more, they make the tree more flammable.

Instead, get rid of any potential bugs before the tree decorating day arrives. Store the cut tree in your garage for a few days so that the bugs make their first appearance there. Shake the tree down well, and have a vacuum cleaner ready to dispose of the bugs that get knocked out of the branches.

Hosing down the tree before bringing it in, as you would most houseplants, is also a good idea, as long as you allow it ample time to dry before you bring it inside.

Keep in mind that any bugs that do appear are not going to hurt you or your family. They are simply a nuisance, not a danger.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.