Don't Have a Clark Griswold Christmas: Get the bugs out of your Christmas
A squirrel climbs out of Clark Griswold's Christmas tree in his
living room, wrecking havoc upon their home.
(see it free here)and movie , one of the funniest Christmas
movies, along with Ralphie in "A Christmas Story". can actually
happen, if you don't t some precautions. Every Christmas tree can
harbor a variety of insects, mites, spiders and even dormant
What to do to prevent the pests
- Shake before bringing the tree in - Most
tree farms have mechanical tree shakers,that shake out any bugs,
loose needles and varmints. Of course, you can do this yourself
by vigorously shaking the tree from side to side before bringing
it into your home
- Birds nests - Look for and remove any
bird nests, since they may contain bird parasites such as mites
- Egg masses - Remove any praying mantis egg
clumps. Take them to a wooded area of meadow as these are
protected benificial specieis. Gypsy moth eggs on the
other hand... can be destroyed.
What NOT to do
- Do not use Aerosol insect sprays - they are
flammable and should NOTbe sprayed on the Christmas tree. You
can use a non-aerosol organic spray, like Neem Oil Spray, which
is usually available at all of the big box stores, like Home
Depot and nurseries.
What are the bugs and pests we might find in a tree?
Rayanne D. Lehman and James F. Stimmel at the
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry
Penn State tell us these are the most common bugs:
- Adelgids - On white pine trees, they often
look like "flocking". These adelgids, and the "flocking" they
produce, are harmless
- Aphids - usually dormant, but some, on true
firs, the gray-green balsam twigs aphid and on pines
and spruces, the larger, spiderlike Cinara aphids may be found.
They are harmless, including to your houseplants... just
- Bark Beetles - small, dark brown to black
beetles typically on the trunk or boring into the trunk,
creating small holes and very fine sawdust.
- Mites - Most are tiny, light-colored, but
one type is bright red and rather large; neither are a threat to
people or pets.
- Bird parasites - found in nests, which is
why you should remove any nests outside
- Praying Mantis Egg Clusters - They leave
their golfball-sized egg masses that feel like styrofoam
attached to evergreens. If you do not remove them and take them
back outside, they will begin to hatch after being indoors for
several weeks. And the poor like guys will die! These are
a valuable, beneifical and legally protected specieies, so put
the egg sacks back outside!
- Psocids - small, winged, soft-bodied
insects colored gray or brown. Harmless, they feed on fungus,
mold, pollen, and dead insects. T
- Scale Insects - usually the pine needle
scale. Large numbers of red crawlers look like mites; shaking
removes them easily.
- Spiders - Ah, yes, your favorite.
It seems everyone is afraid of spiders these days. OK, maybe a
black widow or brown recluse... but really most are harmless and
easily vacuumed up.
And of course, the sleeping squirrel from Christmas Vacation.
Actually, this too, can happen.Mice, squirrels and other woodland
creatures may have been sleeping in there. IT's pretty rare,
but good motivation to shake your tree before you bring it in the