Christmas Tree Pests Are Grinches — But They're Easy To Get Rid Of
It's the holiday season, and Christmas tree setup is in full swing. People are rushing to buy their trees this year—no surprise, we could all use the cheer—and what's more fun than going to pick out your tree? This holiday tradition can come with one downside, though: pests. So, to find out which ones to look out for and what to do about them, we consulted director of plant health at the New York Botanical Garden Don Gabel.
What bugs gather on holiday trees?
According to Gabel, most of the pests you would find on a tree likely came from outside—and luckily, most of them won't actually harm your tree. He explains that as bugs go into winter mode, they seek the shelter of trees and may wind up in someone's living room.
For starters, he notes spiders wouldn't be an uncommon surprise to find in your tree. Neither would stink bug species, such as the brown marmorated stink bug or native stink bugs. Lady beetles (slightly bigger than your ladybug) also seek the solace of trees, as do the dreaded and invasive spotted lanternfly. You'll want to be on the lookout for all of these—and their eggs.
Thankfully, one pest you probably don't have to worry about is ticks, as those guys prefer to hang out on the ground in grassy areas.
How to avoid them.
The best way to keep those pests away from your tree, and your home, is to take measures before you even bring it inside. Gabel says one of the best ways to do this is to shake out your tree aggressively once you get it. (This will help get rid of loose needles as well!)
You can also give your tree a solid hose-down, to spray away any pests in hiding. To be extra safe, you can definitely do both the shake and the spray! And lastly, inspect the trunk for any eggs cases, he adds. "The spotted lantern fly looks like someone smeared tan putty on the trunk, for example."
How to treat them:
If it's too late for preventive measures and you've spotted pests in your tree, Gabel says your best bet is an insecticide that's safe to use in your home. Of course, always read and follow the label, he notes. Many insecticides available today contain essential oils that not only smell nice but are alkaline and will rid your tree of most pests.
And if you haven't already dressed your tree up, you can, of course, take it back outside for a shake and spray if necessary. But, Gabel says, the insecticide should definitely do the trick.
There's nothing like the sight of a gorgeous Christmas tree to get you in the holiday spirit—until you spot a spider in its branches. But have no fear, with a bit of insecticide and a good shake, your tree will be pest-free before the next day on your Advent calendar.
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