Are There Bugs in Your Christmas Tree?

The Christmas tree is decorated and all the lights worked for once. The cats haven’t broken a single ornament and the dog isn’t drinking all the water meant for the tree. Even the lights that flicker are flickering. Presents are starting to accumulate on the tree skirt that grandma made. It’s like a Norman Rockwell painting in your living room. But wait…what’s that? It’s bugs. There are BUGS in your perfect holiday masterpiece.

First off, don’t panic. The critters that are home for the holidays in your tree aren’t harmful. But that doesn’t mean you want to share an eggnog with them. Modern Pest wants you to have a stress-free holiday season, so follow these tips to keep your real tree pest-free.

How to Get Rid of Bugs in a Real Tree

When you’re at the lot and the kids are bored and rushing you to pick out a tree, let them sit in the car and play games on your phone. This process takes time and focus!

  • Found a good-looking tree? Great! But looks aren’t everything. Examine it. Bring a flashlight. Look deep into the tree and check the trunk, branches, and into the needles. Are live bugs moving? Do you see webs or egg sacs? Skip that tree or cut off the infested branches when you get home.
  • Shake it. Really rock around that Christmas tree. Either you or the lot attendant should give it a good shake to evacuate any bugs currently living there.
  • Bring it home, but don’t bring it right inside. Let it chill in a garage or shed for a few days. Whatever is living in it will die off from a lack of food.
  • Shake it again before you bring it in to remove any freeloading bugs that remain.
  • If some of those bugs are like Bruce Willis in Die Hard (yes, it’s a Christmas Movie) and just won’t die, vacuum them up (Hans Gruber should have tried this). Empty the canister or change the bag and deposit it into a bag that can be sealed and put outdoors in a trash can or dumpster.

Got pests? Modern’s Homecare Green Residential Service protects against over 55 common household pests, including mice, flies, and spiders. Call Modern at 1-800-323-7378 to get a free quote or schedule service today! 

So, What Are They?

Most of these unwanted guests aren’t things you’ve heard of unless you’re an entomologist. Most aren’t harmful, either. But here are some possible interlopers you might find on your tree:


  • They suck the juices from conifers like pine and spruce. They are sometimes clustered together.
  • Adelgids can produce white, cottony tufts on all parts of a tree. The tufts somewhat resemble a dusting of snow.


  • Most aphids are so small you won’t notice them on your tree. Some grow larger and are more noticeable.
  • They won’t spread to other house plants.
  • They leave a reddish stain if you crush them, so avoid doing so on walls or furniture.

Bark Beetles

  • These rice-sized, hard, cylindrical beetles burrow into the bark of trees. If you see holes with very fine sawdust on your tree, it’s probably them.
  • No need to worry about bark beetles making Swiss cheese of your furniture, though. They require humidity that the wooden objects in your home just don’t have.

Mites & Spiders

  • Here are some pests you’ve most likely heard about. Mites and spiders won’t harm your tree but will feed off other pests inhabiting it.
  • These shouldn’t be confused with Spider-Man, who does whatever a spider can. Except live in your Christmas tree.

Praying Mantis

  • The first sign that your tree might have praying mantises is a light tan egg mass about the size of a walnut. There are around 400 eggs inside each mass and they will hatch a few weeks after being inside.
  • This isn’t as terrifying as it sounds. Once hatched, praying mantises will hunt and eat other pests living in your tree. And if there isn’t any other food, they’ll attack and eat each other. Not very festive, huh?
  • If your tree has an egg mass, remove the branch and take it outside before it hatches.


  • Psocids are also known as booklice (wingless) or barklice (winged). They are small, soft-bodied insects and feed on things like dead insects, pollen, mold, and fungus.
  • They are harmless to humans, pets, and structures. Without moisture they will die, so they don’t last long inside your home’s dry air.
  • Psocids aren’t like head lice, so put the comb away. No head checks required.

Pine Needle Scale

  • If you see something resembling white paint or specs on your tree needles, it could be pine needle scale eggs. The eggs will hatch a few weeks after the tree is brought inside.
  • Small red bugs emerge from the eggs. You might even see some on the floor or on the walls. Clean them off the tree with a damp towel. Be cautious if you’re cleaning them off other surfaces because they leave a red stain behind when killed. And no one wants a Christmas crime scene in their home.

Happy Holidays from Modern Pest!

No matter what you celebrate, Modern Pest hopes your holidays are fun, relaxing, and pest-free! If you need us, call 1-800-323-7378.