Final December, one in every of my greatest pals despatched out a determined group textual content calling for ethical help when her freshly embellished Christmas tree instantly exploded with tiny child praying mantises (right here’s what you must learn about creepy praying mantises). It is a buddy who, I have to add, actually, actually hates bugs. Quickly the infant mantises had been throughout her house and her Christmas cheer had dissolved into anxiousness as she tried to hoover all of them up and dragged the tree to the curb. Not precisely the jolliest strategy to kick off the vacation season (Consideration procrastinators! Right here’s a last-minute reward for the nature-lover in your life: The Rodale’s Natural Life 2017 Calendar has 365 days of seasonal recipes, inspiring imagery, and gardening suggestions!)
Within the hopes that nobody else has to undergo this sort of Christmas horror, I bought in contact with Nancy Troyano, Ph.D., an entomologist for the household of pest management manufacturers Ehrlich, Western Exterminator, and Presto-X, to search out out which bugs are the most probably to be hiding in Christmas bushes and the most secure methods to do away with them. (Discover out which is extra eco-friendly: an actual Christmas tree vs. a man-made one.)
There are a handful of bugs that make their houses in pine bushes—the commonest embrace aphids, adelgids, scales, bark beetles, psocids, and mites (from deserted fowl nests)—and a few, like praying mantises, lay their eggs on tree branches. The explanation you aren’t more likely to discover the little buggers instantly is that the bugs go dormant for winter. “As quickly as you convey the tree indoors and heat them up, they spring proper again to life,” Troyano explains. Or within the case of praying mantis eggs, they hatch.
The excellent news? None of those bugs will trigger an infestation in your house, and so they’re utterly innocent…although a serious invasion may take a toll in your sanity. (Steal one in every of these 7 charming Christmas traditions from around the globe.)
Troyano’s greatest recommendation for conserving undesirable bugs out of your own home is to provide your tree , old school shake earlier than you convey it inside to dislodge any undesirable guests. Some Christmas tree heaps have mechanical shakers and do the job for you, however your muscle energy shall be efficient, too. Then verify the tree over rigorously utilizing a flashlight and take away any egg lots or fowl nests that you simply discover. By no means must you spray your tree with an insecticide. Except for being dangerous to you and your loved ones (particularly when utilized inexpertly), an aerosol insecticide will make your tree extraordinarily flammable.
Section two of Operation Insect-Free Tree is to maintain the vacuum helpful. In case you suck up the useless needles underneath the tree frequently, you must also catch any rogue bugs. For bigger points that slip previous you, as in my buddy’s case, the vacuum remains to be your greatest line of protection for eliminating pests rapidly. “Most stowaways die fairly rapidly as they’re ‘outside’ pests, and the indoor atmosphere mixed with lack of meals will kill them,” Troyano explains. Which means you don’t want to fret about pests multiplying or inflicting an enduring infestation that might require you to name an exterminator. Troyano provides that bugs are likely to “soar ship” when their host plant dies, so a tree that’s been sitting on quite a bit for per week is much less more likely to be harboring pests than one you simply lower your self on the native Christmas tree farm. Timber shipped from hotter climates might have increased pest exercise, as properly.
In case you’ve by no means had a pest downside together with your tree up to now, these steps could appear pointless. However you by no means know when the infant mantises will strike, so make Christmas tree shaking part of your annual vacation traditions. (Take your celebration up a notch with these eight Danish Christmas traditions it’s best to positively steal.)
This text initially appeared on RodalesOrganicLife.com.