During the holiday season, thoughts of yummy food, a fire in the fireplace, warm sweaters, cute boots and spending time with family and friends fill your head and heart. The months around Christmas evoke warm and fuzzy feelings from treasured memories and family traditions. A freshly-cut Christmas tree fills your home with a welcoming, nostalgic aroma. The excitement and anticipation surrounding your visit to find the perfect tree may only be matched by the enthusiasm around the arrival of favorite family members and guests who come to stay. While we prepare to welcome these house guests, we don’t want to have to deal with creepy crawly, uninvited visitors.

Like any live plant, Christmas trees can suffer from diseases, including root rot, Swiss needle cast and insect infestations. When you bring such a large once-living tree into your home, you can sometimes also bring in creatures who hitch a ride. One of the most common questions about Christmas tree pests comes from homeowners wondering how to get rid of aphids on their Christmas tree. Although these are actually fairly rare instances, you can take precautions to ensure you don’t bring these pests or any others into your home. In this post, we’ll discuss which pests tend to find their way onto a Christmas tree, how to keep them out of your home and how to take care of your tree so it stays healthy until the new year.


Christmas Tree Pests

There are a variety of insects and their offspring that can damage your Christmas tree: aphids, mites, beetles, spiders, adelgids, praying mantis eggs, psocids, weevils and more. To make matters worse, some of these creatures can attract more pests and compromise the health of your tree.

There are different varieties of aphids that might be attracted to Christmas tree species, such as the balsam twig and Cinara aphids. Balsam twig aphids are gray-green and lay eggs which hatch in the spring. However, bringing the tree indoors can cause eggs to hatch before the tree is taken out of your home. These insects like to hang out on Balsam, Fraser, Grand and white firs. If you have a balsam twig aphid infestation, you can tell from the needles, since they will become curled and twisted. An infestation stunts the needles and causes needle loss. Black sooty mold will also appear on the stem, trunk and needles of your tree if aphids cause enough damage. Bees and yellow jackets are also attracted to this sticky substance.

Cinara Aphids

Cinara aphids are the larger than the balsam twig variety. These aphids grow to nearly ⅛ inch. Most are wingless in the wild; however, indoors they can develop wings. These insects look similar to spiders or ticks, but they have six legs instead of eight. Aphids feed on conifer trees.

Trees are blackened by sooty mold that grows on aphid honeydew secretions. Aphid feeding can cause the tree to die early and the needles to yellow. Ants are attracted to the honeydew secretions and may cause additional damage as these pests chew on the tree. Wasps and other stinging insects are also attracted by this residue.

Is a Giant Conifer Aphid Different From a Cinara Aphid?

The giant conifer aphid and the Cinara aphid are the same insects, just known by two different names. Whatever you call these pests, even if you have just one or two that are on your tree, you can end up with a huge infestation just a few weeks later. The creepy-crawly bugs are much easier to spot than a balsam twig aphid because they are much larger. Some people say they look like a stink bug.


An adelgid produces a cottony wax which can make your tree look like it’s been flocked. They leave white little cotton-ball looking material on your tree. If you spot one on a tree you’re considering purchasing, you may want to consider selecting another tree to take home.

These pests do not leave your tree. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, “These insect pests can damage the tender growth of trees by sucking out the plant’s juices. Adelgids feed only on conifers, including Douglas fir, hemlock, larch, pine and spruce.”

How to Prevent Christmas Tree Pests From Entering Your Home

No matter how long your Christmas tree will be in the house, you can take some precautions to prevent bringing pests inside. Although aphids are one of the most common pests on Christmas trees, the same tips can help you keep other pests away. If you are wondering how to get rid of aphids on Christmas trees, you can:

  1. Shake your tree before bringing it into your home. Some tree farms have someone who will shake your tree before loading it into your car or truck. Give the tree a good shake again before bringing it inside.
  2. Spray it with the garden hose. If you have a sprayer attachment for your garden hose, giving your tree a good spray with the jet setting will help knock out more pests.
  3. Check your tree for nests. Bird nests can attract mites and other unwanted pests.
  4. Use insecticidal soap. By spraying your tree with the soap, you can kill many, if not most, of the pests.
  5. Call in the experts. If you suddenly realize you have an infestation on your hands, you may need to call a professional to spray your tree.

Tips for Getting Your Christmas Tree Home

Want to have the best-smelling Christmas tree on the block? Your best bet is to go to a tree farm and have your tree cut while you are there to ensure that it stays fresher longer.

However, if you don’t have a farm in your area and purchase one from a nursery or Christmas tree lot, ask an employee how recently they were cut and where they came from. Inspect the needles of the tree you are considering buying. If they are dry and brittle, you should move on to the next tree or the next lot. The fresher your tree, the longer it will last.

If you select a pre-cut tree, ask the person selling it to cut off the bottom inch to 1 ½ of the trunk. Taking this step will allow your tree to more easily absorb moisture, which can help your Christmas tree look great throughout the holiday season. In a Popular Mechanics article, Tchukki Andersen, a staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association, says that once a tree is cut, it takes about three hours for the sap to start sealing over the base of the tree. Once this happens, the tree has a harder time absorbing water, so make sure to water the tree as soon as possible after you take it home with you.

Once you find the perfect tree for you and your family and have it cut, wrap it in a tarp to protect it from the wind while on your way home.

How to Care For Your Christmas Tree

You’ve picked out your tree from the lot, driven it home and picked out the perfect spot in your home for the tree to go so you and your family can create wonderful holiday memories. To ensure your Christmas tree stays beautiful during its time in your home, there are several things you can do.

The National Christmas Tree Association offers the following tree care tips:

  1. Use a tree stand that is deep enough to hold adequate water. “As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter.”
  2. Find a stand to fit the diameter of your tree, instead of cutting the tree to fit to stand. The association says that “the outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.”
  3. If you buy a pre-cut tree, cut at least 1/2-inch from the base of the trunk. The cut should be flat, which also helps the tree stand up straight in the tree stand. Cutting your tree at an angle or in a V-shape actually makes it more difficult for the tree to absorb water.
  4. Avoid drilling holes in the base of the trunk. Doing so does not improve water uptake.
  5. Water your tree as soon as possible. After you get your tree home, it’s a good idea to get it into the stand with water as soon as possible. The association says that most trees can last between six and eight hours after cutting the trunk and still take up water. The cut surface should be kept clean. If you don’t have a stand yet, you can place your tree in a bucket of water. The temperature of the water doesn’t impact how much water your tree gets.
  6. Keep your tree hydrated. Once your tree is in a stand, check the level of the water each day and refill as necessary to ensure the water level doesn’t go below the base of the tree.
  7. Avoid excessive heat. If you lower the temperature in the room and keep your tree away from direct sunlight, fireplaces, heaters, heat vents and any other direct heat source, it will keep your tree fresher for longer. LED lights produce very little heat, but other minature lights will work well too if you are trying to keep your tree healthy and cool.
  8. Prevent electrical hazards. When it comes to light safety, inspect each strand before placing them on the tree and replace any you see that has worn or frayed wires. Refrain from overloading your electrical circuits.
  9. Save on energy bills. If you leave your home or go to bed, turn off your lights to save on electricity costs.
  10. Protect yourself against fires. Once the tree dries out, it can become a fire hazard. Remove the tree from your home once this happens. Instead of just throwing your tree away, consider recycling it.
  11. Don’t use wood for fires. Christmas trees are not good firewood because they contain sap which can ruin your chimney.

ABC Can Keep Your Holidays Merry

Additional holiday guests of the pest variety are particularly unwelcome. If you find yourself with an infestation of aphids or any other pests, the professionals at ABC Home & Commercial Services can find the source of the problem and recommend a course of action. With ABC’s help, you can turn back your focus on making the holidays merry and bright.

I’d never heard of ticks being in a Christmas tree, but, as my life has proved over and over, anything’s possible. Meet the Cinara Aphid. Before you become infected with my panic and throw your Christmas tree on the curb, I’d better hurry up and clue you in on the punch line – it . Dec 30, · Dear Hoping, This is a Giant Conifer Aphid in the genus Cinara. BugGuide notes that “They are, however, a problem for Christmas tree growers: customers don’t like large, conspicuous aphids in their homes, especially since they tend to abandon the tree as it starts to dry out. “ Benign is not really a word we would use to describe Aphids. BugGuide has this to say about members of the. Dec 01, · Christmas Tree Pests. Home / Expert Advice / Christmas Tree Pests. December 1, Cinara aphids are large brown, or almost black aphids that resemble small swollen ticks (ticks, by the way, are almost never found on Christmas trees). These aphids do not bite or spread diseases and they will not feed on regular house haabma.2020christmasday.infos: 2.

  • Introduction
  • Cinara Aphids on Christmas Trees in North Carolina
  • Lady antebellum christmas songs 2020
  • Now on Twitter
  • A gleeful christmas recorder music for kids
  • Dirty nightclub portland new years
  • The Value of Christmas Trees

Prepared by: Jill Sidebottom, Ph. Each species of aphid feeds on a particular host. They are easy prey to predators such as ladybugs, and usually disappear after several weeks. Consequently, live aphids can potentially be found on trees at harvest time. With warmer temperatures indoors, these aphids become active and start to reproduce by producing live young.

As the tree dries out, the aphids crawl from the tree to decorations, gifts and furnishings. Due to their large size and rounded appearance, consumers often mistake them for ticks.


The young are smaller versions of the adult. They are only rarely produced and seldom seen. As these aphids are not widely studied, not much is known about the lifecycle.

Commonly found in an aphid colony are a few large aphids found with many smaller ones.

Cinara Aphids on Christmas Trees in North Carolina

They may lay eggs on needles in the fall. Eggs have not been shown to hatch when moved to warmer temperatures in a house or greenhouse, and probably require a day-length trigger. Egg production is not common in western North Carolina. Some Cinara aphids have wings, though like most aphids, they are not good at flying.

There may be only a dozen to several hundred trees with aphids while the rest remain aphid-free.

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Trees with aphids are often found in sheltered areas along wooded field edges. Always carry flagging tape in the field to mark aphid-infested trees. Whenever aphids are observed, flag that tree, and examine adjacent trees to determine the extent of the infestation. If aphid colonies are observed in the spring or summer, they will most likely be gone by fall, making an insecticide application unnecessary.

However, be sure to keep an eye on the colonies, checking them once a month to determine if they are expanding or not. It is possible that the aphids may inhabit a field for a year or more, making insecticide applications necessary if trees are to be harvested. To look specifically for aphids in go-to-market trees, scout fields in September and October for aphids.

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Walk through trees in a random pattern, looking for aphids on the terminals and trunks and for wasp activity. Wasps and yellow jackets are attracted to the honeydew excreted by the aphids. If they are observed flying around foliage or back into the canopy, look closer to determine if aphids are present.

  • 12 days of christmas shrek versions
  • Beat the foliage lower in the canopy over a beater board to dislodge aphids. Also, tell employees to look for aphids if they find any purple stains on their hands or gloves while handling trees. If these stains are found, look closer on trees for aphids.

    Though shakers will not remove all the aphids, some will fall out. If Cinara aphids are found in the fall on trees to be harvested, treat with an appropriate insecticide as soon as possible. Any good insecticide will control them if coverage is adequate.

    Using a high pressure sprayer will ensure adequate coverage. An airblast mistblower may not if trees are large and dense. Choose an insecticide that does not have a long residual to reduce problems with worker exposure or pesticide residues on the harvested tree.

    For instance, a product such as Talstar bifenthrin is odorless and a commonly used household insecticide, with few health problems associated it. Treating at least two weeks before harvest should alleviate any concerns about worker exposure to pesticides.

    If aphids are not observed until trees are harvested, control is more difficult. Treating harvested or baled trees is often not effective.

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    Also there is the risk of exposure to pesticides among workers and customers. Infested trees should be isolated.

    They can be washed with water to remove aphids. They can also be treated with an insecticide, and left to dry for several days. Washing trees with a water hose before they are set up for display will also dislodge aphids, identifying problem trees. Washing trees will also remove dust and pollen, common allergens, for the consumer. Trees can be treated with a household insecticide, or insecticidal soap. Use caution when applying flammable materials to cut trees.

    Carefully observe trees over a couple of days to see if any more aphids are found.

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    If not, trees can be made available for sale. Trees can be treated with a household aerosol spray insecticide or insecticidal soap.

    The Value of Christmas Trees

    Vacuum up any aphids that are on furnishings with a vacuum cleaner that does not have a beater bar. Do not squash or smear aphids as they will leave a purple stain. If after treatment aphids reappear, remove the tree from the home.

    Recommendations for the use of agricultural chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader.

    The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by North Carolina Cooperative Extension nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label.

    BUGS and the Real Christmas Tree

    Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry

    Source: Rayanne D. Lehman and James F. Stimmel
    Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry

    Purchasing a REAL Christmas tree may be a big decision for many people, but fears of introducing unwanted and potentially harmful pests into the home via the tree are unwarranted. Every Christmas tree can harbor insects, mites, or spiders. Some of these may remain on the tree into winter and could become active after being exposed to the warm temperatures inside the home. Although many will stay on the tree, a few may be attracted to sources of light, including windows. But, because they are associated with field-grown conifers, none of these accidental introductions are a threat to your home, its contents, or occupants.

    Preventing introduction of these “pests” into your home is the best, and easiest, plan. Mechanical tree shakers, available at some retail lots, are useful in removing some insects from the trees. Vigorously shaking the tree before bringing it into your home will serve the same purpose, and will also remove any loose needles. Bird nests, although considered decorative by some people, may contain bird parasites such as mites and lice. They should be removed by hand if not dislodged by shaking. Any egg masses on the trees, including those of praying mantids and Gypsy moth, should also be removed.

    Control of these temporary invaders should be limited to non-chemical means. Aerosol insect sprays are flammable and should NOT, under any circumstances, be sprayed on the Christmas tree. Insects occurring on the tree should be left there until the tree is removed. Any that collect on ceilings, walls, or windows can be eliminated with a vacuum cleaner. It is important to remember that these “critters” are normally found outdoors, on LIVE trees. Warm temperatures, low humidities and lack of appropriate food conditions typical of most homes will usually kill these invaders in a short time.

    No Christmas tree will have every pest on the following list. In fact, most will be free of these hitchhikers. Occasionally, however, one or more of the following may find its way into your home on your tree.


    Sometimes a tree (especially white pine) will seem to develop its own “flocking” on twigs and bark. This is probably due to the pine bark adelgid, a tiny, apidlike, sucking insect that secretes cottony wax filaments over its body. These adelgids are sedentary and do not leave the tree, but the spontaneous “flocking” may be a cause for curiosity or even concern. These adelgids, and the “flocking” they produce, are harmless.


    Occasionally, aphids will hatch from Christmas trees in sufficient numbers to cause alarm. Most aphids are tiny, inactive, and usually go unnoticed. Aphids of the genus Cinara, however, reach a length of nearly 1/8 inch, making them one of the largest of our native aphids. Most forms, especially those of early generations, are wingless and remain active throughout their lives. If your Christmas tree remains indoors for an extended period (particularly if it is a live tree) these aphids may produce offspring, and winged forms may occur.

    With their brownish or blackish coloration and long legs, Cinara aphids may be mistaken for small spiders or ticks. Aphids, however, have only six legs, while spiders and ticks have eight. Also, these insects do not produce silk or webs, typical of spiders.

    On true firs, balsam twigs aphid may occur. This gray-green species is much smaller than the spiderlike Cinara aphids found on pines and spruces. Outdoors, their overwintering eggs normally hatch in very early spring; indoors, they may hatch before the Christmas tree is removed. They are less likely to be abundant than Cinara aphids.

    All aphids on Christmas trees are host specific, i.e., they can only survive by feeding on certain plants. They will not feed on your houseplants.

    Bark Beetles

    Several species of minute, dark brown to black beetles may be found on or near the tree. They may be boring into the trunk, creating small holes and very fine sawdust. These are bark beetles that were overwintering in the tree. Although they bore into bark or wood, they are not a threat to any of the furnishings or structural parts of the house because wood inside the home is too dry for these beetles to survive. When the tree is removed at the end of the holiday season, the bark beetles will again go into dormancy, resuming their normal activity in spring.


    Many species of predatory mites overwinter as adults and become active when exposed to warm temperatures in the home. They generally remain on the tree, where they may prey on insect and mite eggs. Most of these tiny, light-colored mites will go unnoticed. One type, however, is bright red and rather large. These predatory mites are relatives of chiggers, but in the adult state are not a threat to people or animals.

    Several species of bird parasites may be found in nesting material after the birds have abandoned the nest. Although these mites are generally not present on the trees in winter, bird nests on the tree should be removed to assure that no mites are brought into the home.

    Praying Mantids

    These large, showy insects overwinter in egg masses that are frequently attached to conifer limbs. These eggs will begin to hatch after being indoors for several weeks. When this happens, numerous tiny mantids swarm over the tree seeking food. Since they are cannibalistic they will eat each other if no other food is available.

    The popular misconception that these beneficial insects are protected by law may prompt people to attempt to keep praying mantids alive until they can be released outdoors. None of the mantids are protected and keeping them alive in captivity is impossible, given the voracious appetite of a growing mantid. Also, if released outdoors when temperatures warm in early spring, survivors would quickly die, since their life cycle would not be synchronized with their prey.

    It is best to look for the light tan, walnut-sized, frothy egg masses on the tree before it is taken indoors. Cut out any small twig with an attached egg mass and place it in an evergreen shrub or tree outdoors. In spring, eggs will hatch and the mantids will have appropriate food available.


    These insects are sometimes, unfortunately, referred to as “barklice,” a name that is misleading since there is nothing louselike about them. Psocids are small, winged, soft-bodied insects colored gray or brown. “Barklice” are not parasitic and do not bite, but feed on a variety of materials, including fungus, mold, pollen, and dead insects. They can be found outdoors on the bark of many trees, including Christmas trees, but will quickly die from conditions in most homes.

    Scale Insects

    Crawlers of scale species that overwinter in the egg stage may appear on trees kept indoors long enough for eggs to hatch. The most likely candidate is the pine needle scale. If its populations are high, large numbers of red crawlers moving about on the tree may be mistaken for mites, “lice,” or some other tiny insect. These crawlers could easily be shaken or knocked from the tree and may be noticeable (especially on a light background ) as tiny, slowly moving red specks. If crushed, they may leave red spots or streaks that can be removed with soapy water.

    Pine tortoise scale and striped pine scale will not produce crawlers indoors. Both scales overwinter as immatures and do not have sufficient time to mature and produce offspring on trees kept indoors. If they begin to feed, however, they may excrete small amounts of a clear, sticky liquid known as honeydew.


    Spiders found on Christmas trees are predators of insects and are not dangerous to people or pets. They are either overwintering species that have become active or spiderlings that have hatched after being exposed to warm temperatures. In most cases, they will remain on the tree and go unnoticed. But, if they venture off, they may weave small webs on walls, ceilings or furniture. These webs, and their inhabitants, can be removed easily with a vacuum cleaner or dusting brush. It is important to remember that the spiders brought in with the tree are not indoor species and will die in a short time because of their new, unsuitable environment.

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    Giant Conifer Aphids

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    Description and Biology

    Skip to Description and Biology

    Giant conifer aphids are soft-bodied, generally gregarious insects that are often found in large groups. They have piercing-sucking mouthparts that are used to feed on the sap in twigs, branches, trunks, and roots. Most species are restricted to feeding on one genus of tree. Some Cinara aphids such as the white pine aphid attack only one tree species. Giant conifer aphids are large aphids, up to 1/4 inch long, and are long legged and dark. Most aphids have a pair of tube-like structures on the abdomen called cornicles. The cornicles of Cinara aphids are cone-shaped. These aphids are wingless or may have wings. We have several generations a year in North Carolina. Eggs hatch in the spring into tiny aphids. They molt through several stages, becoming larger with each molt. During the growing season all giant conifer aphids are females that give birth to live young. The last summer generation develops into males as well as females. They mate, and females lay eggs on needles or bark. Aphids secrete honeydew as they feed, and other insects, especially ants, bees, and wasps, feed on the honeydew. Some species of ants protect aphids from predators in order to harvest the honeydew.

    Cinara aphids on juniper.


    Cinara aphids on juniper.

    Cinara aphids on loblolly pine sapling.


    Cinara aphids on loblolly pine sapling.

    Cinara aphid on Scot pine.


    Cinara aphid on Scot pine.

    (Last Updated On: December 14, 2016)

    The last week in November and first three weeks in December are Christmas tree season in the U.S. All over the country, excited families take to the nearest tree lot to pick a recently cut tree for home. Some of these trees, however, come with more than just needles and flocking.

    Giant conifer aphids in the genus Cinara, are among the most commonly encountered insects on fresh Christmas trees. These aphids form colonies on trees outdoors. Smaller colonies and lighter infestations are often missed by the tree farm, or by a bright-eyed family out on a U-cut adventure.

    Closeup of a Cinara aphid, one of the most common Christmas tree pests. Photo by Tom Murray, courtesy Bugguide.net

    Conifer aphids are sometimes mistaken for ticks by horrified tree buyers. But ticks have eight legs, and are not likely to be brought into a home on a tree. On the other hand, aphids are harmless. They feed only on plants and will not bite. Nor do they live long off a live tree, so you need not be concerned about them laying eggs on, or infesting, their ornaments.

    Conifer aphids are more likely to be present on cut Christmas trees after a warm fall like this year. The warm weather encourages higher late season populations on trees.

    When introduced into a warm home after sitting in a cold tree lot, conifer aphids usually become active and many will move off the tree, as discovered by a local pest control professional who contacted me today (inspiring this post). His puzzled customer saw long-legged bugs crawling over the fireplace, kitchen, and bathroom of a small apartment–not linking them to the Christmas tree in the corner.

    Insecticides are not necessary or desirable for control of conifer aphids or any other insects/mites on Christmas trees. If you bring home an infested tree and it has not been decorated, encourage take the tree outdoors, shake it well, and vacuum up as many of the bugs as possible. Or better yet, return the tree to the lot for a replacement. Be sure to inspect any new tree and pound the stump on the ground several times to check for live aphids before bringing it home.

    Take care not to mash conifer aphids on carpet or furnishings. They will stain.

    Other pests sometimes brought in on Christmas trees include other species of aphids or adelgids, spruce spider mites, and even praying mantid egg cases. None of these are harmful, and either replacing the tree or vacuuming the offending bugs is usually sufficient.

    And don’t forget that firewood can be another source of insects, especially beetles, during the winter months. A good preventive measure is to keep firewood outside until it is needed for a fire.

    Luckily, none of these pests are especially common on live trees. Nor should they discourage you from bringing a fresh cut tree indoors. In my book the smell from a real Christmas tree more than makes up for the occasional arthropod hitchhiker.

    There’s nothing like picking out a freshly-cut Christmas tree to celebrate the holiday season, but with that tree can come a host of gross little bugs just waiting to enjoy the comforts of your home.

    Naturally, you’ll want to do everything you can to make sure you get a tree that’s as bug-free as possible. But what are you looking for, exactly? And how can you get rid of these pests? Ahead, you’ll find everything you need to know about Christmas tree bugs, where they like to hang out, and how to get rid of them safely.

    What are the most common Christmas tree bugs?

    There are actually a few different types of bugs that could be living in your tree, says Chad Gore, Ph.D., an entomologist and Market Technical Director with Ehrlich Pest Control. Here are the common ones to keep on your radar:

    Chris MansfieldGetty Images


    These little critters love to suck sap from your tree. They look similar to ticks, but they have six legs and are typically a few millimeters in length. Aphids are often black or brown (but can also be red or green) and some may also develop wings.

    Getty Images


    These insects are tiny, and the coating of wool-like wax they produce can look like a little dusting of snow on your tree (typically around the buds, candles, or needle bases of Christmas trees). The insects underneath can be yellow or purple in color.

    Brytten Steed, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

    Pine needle scale

    The eggs of these scale insects look like little white specs on your tree’s needles, almost like it has flecks of white paint on them. These infested needles will often drop early. If they hatch, small red bugs will produce.

    DGGetty Images


    “Spiders are predatory feeders, so they are looking to feast on the insects that are living on the tree,” Gore says. Also worth noting: If you see a bird’s nest in a tree you’re interested in, choose another one. They can contain mites and other parasites.

    Henrik_LGetty Images

    Bark beetles

    These bugs are about the size of a grain of rice and have red, brown, or black coloring. They like to feed on stressed trees, so it’s possible they colonized before the tree was harvested. Bark beetles prefer moist wood, so they pose no threat to the structures in your home, like furniture.

    hekakoskinenGetty Images


    The little winged insects, also known as bark lice or booklice, like to eat mold or fungi that might be on your tree. They are typically brown or gray in color and die quickly in homes due to low humidity. Despite their name, they are not like typical lice and do not bite or feed on humans.

    ViewStockGetty Images

    Praying mantis

    In some areas of the country, you might also see praying mantises in your tree, Gore says. You may even find their egg cases attached to the branches, which are large and brown in color. In this case, take that part of the branch outdoors to keep it from hatching inside.

    Where do bugs like to hang out in Christmas trees?

    It depends on the bug. “Scale insects and aphids are sap-feeding insects that can be found on the trunk, limbs, and the woody parts of the tree. This is also where you’ll find bark beetles and psocids,” says Gore.

    Adelgids are more likely to be found on the limbs or green parts of the tree, and they can lay eggs that are “white and sac-like, with wispy webbing around them,” Gore says, adding that “you’ll see them very easily against the green of the tree limbs.”

    As for spiders, they’ll show up anywhere on your tree. “They could be hiding on the trunk, or within the boughs of the tree,” Gore says.

    Should you worry if you find bugs in your Christmas tree?

    While it’s gross and less than ideal, these bugs aren’t usually going to harm you. “There’s no reason to panic if you find a pest on your Christmas tree,” Gore says. Most of these bugs like to eat plants, so they won’t bother you. While uncommon, some spiders can bite, Gore warns, so it’s not a bad idea to wear gloves when you’re handling your tree and setting it up inside.

    In some cases when there’s an egg mass on a tree, bringing the tree inside to a warm space can speed up the development and hatching. “That might create some worry if you suddenly have hundreds of tiny insects that appear around your tree,” Gore says. “However, these cases are rare.”

    How to get rid of Christmas tree bugs

    Your best bet is to use your vacuum. “Simply vacuum the pest up and then empty the canister or remove the vacuum cleaner bag,” Gore says. “Place the contents into a larger trash bag, seal the trash bag, and take it to an outdoor trash can or dumpster.”

    ⚠️ Do not use OTC insecticide on or around your Christmas tree.

    You definitely don’t want to use an OTC insecticide on or around your Christmas tree. “Many can be flammable and the heat of Christmas tree lights could be enough to cause a problem,” Gore warns.

    Some sources recommend treating the tree with diatomaceous earth, a powder that kills insects by drying them out. “It would certainly kill insects that contact it and get exposed to enough of it,” Gore says, “but it does not work very quickly.” Plus, he adds the average homeowner may end up over-applying the product, leading to “unnecessary exposure to it by the home occupants. If you have pets who like to mess with a tree, you don’t want them to get it on or in them if they ingest it.”

    If you feel that the infestation is too large to handle on your own, simply remove the tree from your home—your best bet simply may be getting a new one.

    How to prevent Christmas tree bugs

    Gore recommends taking these steps when you go to buy a tree:

    Rechargeable Bolder LC40 Flashlight Anker amazon.com $22.99

    1. Inspect the tree. “It’s never a bad idea to take along a bright flashlight with you as you select your tree,” Gore says. “Shine the light onto the trunk of the tree at several points and look for insects or eggs.” If you see them, try another tree.
    2. Shake your tree. Many places will have a mechanical tree shaker that can be used but, if there’s not one available, Gore recommends giving your tree a “vigorous shake or two” before you put it inside your car or house.
    3. Inspect it again. Just to be safe, before you take the tree into your house.

    Again, if you happen to spot a bug or two in your tree, don’t panic. But taking a few preventative measures can go a long way toward keeping pests out of your place.

    Like what you just read? You’ll love our magazine! Go here to subscribe. Don’t miss a thing by downloading Apple News here and following Prevention. Oh, and we’re on Instagram too.

    Korin Miller Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, sexual health and relationships, and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Self, Glamour, and more.

    Aphids affecting Christmas Trees

    Author: H.C. Ellis, University of Georgia

    Several kinds of aphids (Homoptera:Aphididae) may infest conifers grown as Christmas trees. The white pine aphid, Cinara strobi (Fitch), and others in the same genus, including C. pini (Linn.) and C. carolina Tissot, are sometimes a problem. Others include Eulachnus spp. and Essigella spp. The giant bark aphid, Longistigma caryae (Harris), although not normally a pest of conifers, has also been found in Christmas tree plantings in late season.


    Depending on the species, aphids may be white, green, gray, black or brown. Some may have stripes or spots. All are usually small (1 – 6 mm long), soft-bodied and somewhat pear-shaped, and they may or may not have wings. Most have rather long antennae and a pair of cornicles (tail-pipe-looking structures) on the fifth or sixth abdominal segment. Nymphs (immature forms) look much like the adults but are generally smaller and never have wings.


    Aphids suck sap from the trees. Both nymphs and adults do damage. Heavy populations can cause distorted, off-color foliage, reduce tree vigor and even kill limbs. They also produce honeydew which supports sooty mold. The sooty mold, when heavy, turns infested trees black and may interfere with photosynthesis. The honeydew attracts bees and ants – the latter often protect the aphids from predators such as lady beetles.

    Life History and Habits

    Aphid life cycles vary depending on species, host and weather. Many species lay eggs which overwinter in protected places on the trees. Others spend the winter as adults and reproduce throughout the year in warm areas. Overwintering eggs hatch in the spring, and emerging nymphs mature in a short time. Adults developing from overwintering eggs are usually all female and are commonly called “stem mothers” because they give rise to the summer generations. The “stem mothers” give birth to living young, without mating. Generally, the young are all females and they too give birth, without mating, to female living young. Reproduction commonly continues in this way (parthenogenetically) throughout the summer. Many species can go from birth to reproducing adult in as little as seven days with favorable weather, and populations can increase rapidly. Females of the summer generations may or may not be winged. Winged forms are produced at various times during the season, probably as a response to overcrowding, and winged females fly to other trees to start new colonies. At some point in the succession of generations, usually in the late summer or fall, most species produce males for a sexual generation. The males mate with females, which then lay overwintering eggs.


    Aphids are easily killed by labeled insecticides when infestations are discovered, although getting good coverage in the interior of older trees often presents problems. Reduce sooty mold accumulation by adding a small amount of dish-washer detergent to the sprays. The detergent makes the sooty mold more easily washed off by rains once the aphids are controlled. A clean-up insecticide application is normally suggested for marketable trees about two weeks before harvest begins.

    Aphids on Conifers

    There are several types of aphids that feed on conifers. Feeding damage can produce needle discoloration (yellow or white), needle deformation, premature needle drop, stunted growth, or branch death. In addition, aphids secrete sticky honeydew that falls on objects beneath the feeding sites. An unsightly black sooty mold often grows on the honeydew residues.

    Species of the genus Cinara are large, long-legged, spider-like aphids that feed on the bark of twigs and main stems of trees. Host plants include Douglas fir, junipers, arborvitae, and various pines. The white pine aphid (Cinara strobi) is regularly noted on eastern white pine in Iowa. Cinara aphids are often tended by ants, which feed on the honeydew and protect the ants from natural enemies.

    The spotted pine aphid (Eulachnus agilis) is a smaller green aphid with several black spots on its body. Common hosts include Scots, red, and Austrian pines. This insect is very active and only feeds on pine needles.

    The pine bark aphid (Pineus strobi) is actually an aphid relative called an adelgid.

    These insects are covered with a white, cottony wax and may be found feeding on the bark of the trunk and larger branches, on the bark of twigs, or at the base of the needles. Trunks of heavily infested host trees (eastern white, Scots, and Austrian pines) look white (as if painted) because of the fuzzy covering on the insects.

    Aphid infestations on conifers rarely require treatment because their populations are kept in check by natural controls (natural enemies, host plant resistance, and weather). Remedial action for aphids would be justified if: 1) aphid populations are high; 2) significant host plant damage is anticipated; and 3) the timing is appropriate. Determining whether control options are needed begins with frequent and thorough inspection of the affected host plants. When aphid populations are increasing and natural enemies are not feeding on the aphids, remedial controls are justified, listed in order of preference and increased environmental impact.

    The least toxic, lowest impact control method is to use a forceful water spray to dislodge aphids from host trees. Thoroughly spray infested plants parts (e.g. foliage, stems) with sufficient pressure to knock the insects off the host, but not injure the host plant. You must repeat this type of application because there is no residual effect. Another low impact control option is insecticidal soap, which is available from garden centers, hardware stores, and department stores under various trade names. Look for a product that lists as the active ingredient potassium or sodium salts of fatty acids. Horticultural oil is also an effective treatment material against aphids. Traditional insecticides used in the home landscape for aphid control on conifers include Isotox, Malathion, and Sevin.

    This article originally appeared in the 5/16/2003 issue.

    RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Q: While I was out disconnecting the hoses and getting things cleaned up for the winter, I noticed lots of small black-winged bugs on the long-needled pines I have. They are clustered around the bases of the needles, and I found some gathered along the smaller branches and stems. They were pretty slow-moving, but they definitely aren’t dead. Do you have an idea as to what they are and should I be concerned for the pines? – P.P., West Side

    A: To me, it sounds like your pines are hosting a tribe of aphids and, yes, I believe you should treat for them. It’s just that, with the temperatures having dipped to the point they are now, you’ll have to time for the treatment to coincide with the temperature. Most pesticides you’d spray on plants shouldn’t be applied during the “dormant” season when the temperatures are below 45 degrees. Now, you wouldn’t get me outside when the temps were that cold spraying water. Brrrr. That’d be a really cold chore.

    Anyway, the pesticide I suggest you apply will be a “dormant oil” concoction. Ortho calls their product Volck oil, but any nursery will have dormant oil available to use this time of year. There are other products (pesticides) that’ll knock down an aphid infestation, but the oil is very multi-talented when it comes to pest control. One, it’s a pretty darn safe pesticide. In pesticide ranking, it’s fairly far down the scale. When I say multi-talented, I mean the oil works a couple of different ways, too. When you spray the properly mixed oil on active bugs, they get sticky, wings no longer work, breathing suffers and the bugs die. Then the oil also coats eggs so they aren’t able to hatch later. Such a remarkably safe way to treat plantlife for pests. During the winter months, you don’t have to worry about scorching the leaves (needles) of the plants while it’s too hot either. That’s part of the reason it’s called “dormant oil,” making it the most reliable pesticide for cool season spraying.

    Now, if you have gobs of bugs and want to mix it with a stronger pesticide, you can as long as the labels say you can. Please, don’t go mixing pesticides just because you think you’d solve an issue. If the products don’t list “mix-ability,” you shouldn’t ever! But that’s a rant I’ll discuss more during the winter months. But, if you feel like you should treat for the aphids now, definitely apply dormant oil. It’ll do the trick!



    Q: I want to compost the leaves from my ash trees this year, but don’t know much about the process. What do you think? – N.C., Albuquerque

    A: I’m not very versed on composting, but I do know there will be an educational opportunity happening next weekend. At the Albuquerque Garden Center at 10120 Lomas NE, just west of Eubank, the New Mexico Composters are offering a workshop. On Saturday, Nov. 14, from 9-5, you’ll “learn how to compost your food and yard waste, an easy and fun way to recycle and build healthy soil in your yard and garden.” You’ll learn the art, science, method choices and benefits of composting! There is a fee. To register, call (505) 929-0414 or email [email protected] for the entire scoop. I’m confident this class would be far more informative than I would ever hope to be. So, if it’ll fit into your schedule, go for it and learn lots. Have fun Digging In!

    Need tips on growing your garden? Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send your garden-related questions to Digging In, Rio West, P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103.

    Eulachnus rileyi
    (pine needle aphid)

    Distribution References

    Abdullah I N, Mohammad M A, 1991. Seasonal abundance and population density of pine aphid, Eulachnus rileyi W. (Homoptera, Aphididae) in Hammam Al-Alil region. Arab Journal of Plant Protection. 9 (1), 19-22.

    CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

    CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI

    CABI, Undated. Compendium record. Wallingford, UK: CABI

    Chilima CZ, 1991. The status and development of conifer aphid damage in Malawi. , Muguga, Kenya: Kenya Forest Research Institute and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 64-67.

    Delfino M A, Eastop V F, 1980. Contribution to the knowledge of the pine aphids (Homoptera, Aphidoidea: Lachnidae) in Argentina. (Contribucion al conocimiento de los afidos de los pinos (Homoptera: Aphidoidea: Lachnidae) en la Argentina.). Revista de la Sociedad Entomologica Argentina. 39 (3/4), 143-148.

    Gopo J M, Mutika G, Wessels D C J, 2002. Mycoplasma-like-organisms (MLOs): as casual agents for the yellow type of plant disease in pine and cyprus trees in Zimbabwe. Discovery and Innovation. 106-114.

    Halperin J, 1986. Eulachnus rileyi – a new pine aphid in Israel. Phytoparasitica. 14 (4), 319.

    Jaśkiewicz B, Sławińska A, 2005. Aphids (Homoptera, Aphidodea) inhabiting the shrubs of Pinus mugo Turra in the green areas of Lublin. Part I. The population dynamics. Acta Agrobotanica. 58 (1), 153-164.

    Katerere Y, 1983. The fungus Entomophthora planchoniana Cornu (non Thaxter). The pine needle aphid Eulachnus rileyi (Williams) Zimbabwe. Commonwealth Forestry Review. 62 (4), 271-273.

    Kiwuso P, 1995. The current conifer aphid situation in Uganda. , Kenya Station, International Institute of Biological Control, CABI. 61-62.

    Massawe A, Kisaka EZ, 1995. Current status of conifer aphids in Tanzania. , . Muguga, Kenya: International Institute of Biological Control. 55-59.

    Murphy S T, 1996. Status and impact of invasive conifer aphid pests in Africa. In: Impact of diseases and insect pests in tropical forests. Proceedings of the IUFRO Symposium, Peechi, India, 23-26 November 1993. , . Peechi, India: Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI). 289-297.

    Murphy S T, Völkl W, 1996. Population dynamics and foraging behaviour of Diaeretus leucopterus (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), and its potential for the biological control of pine damaging Eulachnus spp. (Homoptera: Aphididae). Bulletin of Entomological Research. 86 (4), 397-405. DOI:10.1017/S0007485300034982

    Owour AL, 1991. Exotic conifer aphids in Kenya, their current status and options for management. , . Mugaga, Kenya: Kenya Forest Research Institute and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 58-63.

    Palmer M A, 1952. Aphids of the Rocky Mountain Region. Colorado, USA: The Thomas Say Foundation.

    Rosales C J, Cermeli M, 1995. Observations on the aphid Eulachnus rileyi Williams (Homoptera: Aphididae) on Pinus caribaea var. hondurensis Barret and Golfari in Venezuela. (Observaciones sobre el afido Eulachnus rileyi Williams (Homoptera: Aphididae) en Pinus caribaea var. hondurensis Barret y Golfari en Venezuela.). Agronomía Tropical (Maracay). 45 (4), 473-481.

    Selander J, Bubala M, 1983. A survey of pest insects in forest plantations in Zambia. In: A survey of pest insects in forest plantations in Zambia. Kitwe, Zambia: Division of Forest Research. 33 pp.

    Tremblay E, Biase L Micieli de, 1970. Aphidological notes II. – Notes on the aphids of Pinus nigra Arn. (Notulae aphidologicae II. – Notizie sugli afidi del Pinus nigra Arn.). Bollettino del Laboratorio di Entomologia Agraria Filippo Silvestri, Portici. 204-223.

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