Description of insects on Christmas trees
For many families, part of the joy of holidays is bringing a live, fresh-cut evergreen tree into the house to decorate. It is a long-standing tradition to have this small part of the natural, outdoor world in our homes at this time of year.
However, on occasion, too much of the "real" world comes in with the tree. It is not uncommon, nor should it be unexpected, that insects or spiders that were on the tree while it was growing outdoors will be carried into the house when the tree is cut. Fortunately, these "accidental invader" insect and spider pests are harmless and should not be viewed as a disruption to the festivities.
Life cycle of insects on Christmas trees
The two pests most commonly found on fresh-cut trees are aphids and spiders. In both cases, adults that were on the trees back in late summer or fall laid eggs on the stems or foliage. These eggs should remain dormant through the inhospitable weather of winter, but they hatch when they become sufficiently warmed by heat within the house. An infestation may vary from just a few to several hundred individuals.
Newly hatched insects and spiderlings are very small (approximately 1/16th inch). Only when they are present in large numbers do they even make sufficient impact to be noticed. In many cases, the newly-hatched insects and spiders wander only a very short distance before expiring from desiccation.
Damage caused by insects on Christmas trees
None of the insects or spiders that emerge after being carried in on a fresh-cut tree will cause any harm or damage to the tree, the house, the furnishings or the occupants. They cannot bite or sting and they will not live long enough to grow or multiply. They will quickly die of starvation or desiccation, whichever comes first.
Management of insects on Christmas trees
Do not spray insecticides on fresh cut Christmas trees. Available household insecticides are not a serious health risk but there is no benefit to exposing your family to pesticides that aren't needed.