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What are these tiny bugs in my Christmas tree?

Annually, you and your family purchase a Christmas tree from a local vendor that gives a percentage of their money to a local charity. This year’s trees are prettier than prior years and your family finds the perfect tree. The vendor wraps the tree, straps on top of your vehicle, and you head home to set it up. You get home and shake the tree out a bit and place it.

Two weeks before Christmas you notice that there are tiny black spots falling on your gifts. You find it odd and shake the tree only to find that 100’s more fall out. Your wife insists that you take the tree down. You do so and find that these little black spots are tiny aphids falling from your tree! It’s a Christmas nightmare!

What is an aphid?

Aphids are small insects that eat the sap on trees. They can be in many different colors and some even have wings. At first glance, many believe they are ticks, however ticks have 8 legs, while aphids only have 6. Aphids are also shaped more like a tear drop, while ticks are more flat.

The bad part is that they typically hibernate, setting up their home inside trees. However, when you bring them inside a warm home…they begin to mistaken the temperature for summer and wake-up. They aren’t dangerous, but certainly not the gift you expected under, or in, your Christmas tree.

How to prevent an aphid investation

While some tree sellers do treat their trees for aphids, not all. You may want to make sure you mechanically shake the tree (with a tree-shaker) before taking it home. You can also set the tree in the garage for a few days before bringing it in. Hopefully your garage is warm enough for any aphids to wake up. This way, you can see them moving around on the tree before you bring it in.

If you do have an invasion, feel free to vacuum them up as they fall out of the tree. There are also insecticides, but it’s not recommended to use those inside during the holidays. You can also mix 1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of dish detergent and a teaspoon of cooking oil in a spray bottle and spray on the tree. This won’t do any damage to the tree but aphids aren’t a fan of the mixture.

Hopefully, you won’t run into this problem but keep in mind, anytime you bring outside foliage inside, you run the risk of bringing pests with you.

We hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and as always, contact us for any of your pest control or heating/cooling needs.