The holiday season brings with it a wealth of traditions, one of the most prominent being the Christmas tree. For many of us in New England, this means gathering the family together and driving out to a local tree farm to pick out the perfect, freshly-cut tree. Live evergreens bring the classically pleasant smell of fir, spruce, or pine into your home, but did you also know that they can bring in unwanted holiday guests as well? No, I’m not talking about your Uncle Eddie and his fruitcake, but rather a variety of pests that can hide within the boughs.
Have you ever wondered what happens to insects and arachnids (spiders) in the winter?
In New England, sub-zero temperatures are not uncommon and create a hostile environment for cold-blooded creatures, but anyone who has lived through a New England spring knows that when the temperatures rise the bug population reappears as if they’d never left.
So where were they?
The short answer is that while some insects do die, most either migrate, hibernate, or can withstand the temperatures and carry on as usual. Those that hibernate enter a stage known as diapause, where insects produce a substance similar to antifreeze, which allows them to survive even the toughest of winters. Before going into this dormant condition, they seek shelter in a variety of locations including inside tree holes, under tree bark, or on stems and foliage. Your lush, full-bodied evergreen could be destined for more than just stringing lights and hanging ornaments – according to a study conducted by Norway’s University Museum of Bergen; a single Christmas tree could be home to over 25,000 bugs! Once the tree assumes its place in your living room, the warmth tricks the slumbering critters into thinking it’s spring, causing them to reanimate.
If you wake up Christmas morning and discover more than just presents under the tree, never fear- the majority of insects and arachnids that hitched a ride indoors will quickly die of starvation, and most that survive will not reproduce. The general consensus is that they do not pose a risk to any occupants, but if you’re like me and shudder at the mere idea of sharing your home with a creepy crawly infestation…
Here are some steps you can take to minimize the risk:
- If the business you bought your tree from offers a tree shaker, utilize it. Not only will this shake off loose needles, but it will also help remove critters nestled within the tree. Vigorously shaking your tree at home before bringing it inside will serve the same purpose.
- Before bringing the tree indoors, inspect the trunk and branches for birds nests and egg sacs. While birds nests appear decorative, they may contain bird mites or lice.
- If you have a garage, leaving the tree inside it for a few days can sometimes provide warm enough temperatures to wake any dormant bugs and allow them to leave the tree before you bring it into your home.
- Do NOT use an aerosol bug spray or any other type of pesticide on your tree. These are highly flammable and could lead to much greater problems than a few spiders or beetles.
The Modern Solution
If you have a pest problem, don’t tackle it alone. Modern’s goal is to solve your pest problem while minimizing the amount of materials placed in and around your home. We do this through careful inspections, locating pest “hot spots,” as well as helping you to minimize conditions that promote pest activity in and around your home.
As always, if you find yourself with a pest problem that is putting a damper on your holiday cheer, give the professionals at Modern Pest Services a call today at 1-800-323-7378. Or get an instant online quote for the comprehensive HomeCare Green program that controls 60 common pests, year-round!