Christmas is a wonderful, joyous holiday. Most people really enjoy decorating for the holidays, and put a Christmas tree in their homes. Real Christmas trees are a fun tradition for many families during the holiday season, providing us holiday scent of spruce or pine. Remember, these trees are from nature. Sometimes it can bring too much nature into your homes, such as insects and spiders.
Insects on Christmas trees
It is rare to bring insects into your home on a Christmas tree, but it can occur. The most common pests found on freshly cut trees are aphids and spiders. Neither of these pests cause us any harm or populate in the home. They are coming from eggs that were laid on the tree in the fall. Once the tree warms up in the home, the insects emerge, thinking it is spring. Because they are in the home and not outside, these pests will die of starvation or desiccation, drying out.
There are practices tree growers use to ensure there are no insects on the trees. However, because these insects are on the tree as tiny eggs in the field and the growers have many trees, once in a great while an insect may be missed.
Managing insects from Christmas trees
Spiders and aphids will not harm us in our homes. They will likely die soon after emergence indoors. There really is no need to control them other than hand removal if you see them. It would help to shake out the tree prior to bringing it indoors to remove insects.
Insects on firewood
Many people also enjoy a fire in the fireplace for the Christmas season. I don’t have a fireplace now, but growing up, it always made the holiday more festive with a nice fire burning in the fireplace.
Many different insects may be overwintering in the wood, and some others might use it as a food supply during the winter months. Insects that may be found in the wood you pile for your wood stoves include: bark beetles, powder post beetles, carpenter ants, wood boring beetles, and many others. They may not be active due to the cold winter temperatures, but once inside, they may become active again. Typically, insects in firewood will only be a nuisance pest in your home because they cannot survive in your home.
Managing insects in firewood
Insects found in your firewood are not harmful and therefore do not need to be sprayed with any type of insecticide. Do not spray insecticides on firewood prior to burning because the insecticide could be flammable or cause an inhalation hazard while the log burns. Insects found in the home can be controlled with sticky traps this time of the year.
The best management for insects in firewood is to bring wood inside only as you need it. Don’t stack wood inside, and don’t bring in multiple loads at once. Wood boring insects will not come out of the wood and begin feeding on your furniture or any other wood material, but they will be moving around in your home if you let the wood warm up too much.
Wood that remains at a temperature of less than 50 degrees will keep any insects inside of it at a dormant stage. If you bring too much wood into your home at a time, the wood will warm up and the insect could emerge from the wood and move around your home. If you bring only a few pieces of wood into your home at a time, you will be placing it into the fire before the insect is able to emerge and it will die in the fire.
Nicole Stoner is the Gage County Horticulture Extension Educator. She can be contacted at (402) 223-1384, email@example.com, or by visiting the Gage County Extension website at www.gage.unl.edu. Like her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NicoleStonerHorticulture, or follow her on Twitter @Nikki_Stoner.