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Ask the Bug Doc: Christmas Tree Pests

Q: My family traditionally buys a real tree for the holidays, but last year, after bringing our tree into our home, I saw lots of little bugs dead on the carpet. Did my Christmas tree have bugs? Should we get a fake tree this year?

A: Without seeing a photo, it’s hard to be sure, but I am guessing your home fell victim to the giant conifer aphid – aka Christmas tree pests. These tiny pests are most often transported into homes on fresh trees, and unsuspecting homeowners get a surprise when they crawl or fall off the tree inside.

These aphids don’t bite humans or pets and won’t reproduce inside. They’ll also die within a short period of time because the environmental conditions inside your home aren’t optimal for their survival.

The good news is, you can continue your family tradition of getting a real tree. But, to avoid having these pests in your home this year, do two things before you buy:

  • Do an inspection of the trunk and branches before purchasing your tree. If you see lots of insects, it may be best to select another tree or go to another lot.
Aphids on pine needles.
  • Ask the lot or farm attendant to use a mechanical tree shaker to shake off any pests that might be present. No shaker? Give the tree a few hard shakes yourself.

Doing these things may not completely ward off the chances of having a giant conifer aphid make its way into your home, but it will reduce them. And don’t worry, if you do spot one inside, you can use a vacuum to remove it.

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