Bugs in the Christmas Tree? Shake, Relax, Decorate

December 6, 2017   ·   0 Comments

Dec. 6, 2017 — Sam Minturn’s Christmas tree farm in Hilmar, CA, sits next to an alfalfa field. One recent holiday season, the ladybugs from the field decided his trees were the perfect warm place to spend the winter.

“We went out and put a ribbon on every tree that had ladybugs” to alert customers, he says. After he donated a tree to a local church, “some ladybugs came out during the sermon,” says Minturn, the executive director of the California Christmas Tree Association.

He tells the story to illustrate that yes, your Christmas tree may indeed have hitchhiking bugs.

“All commercially grown Christmas trees are probably going to be pretty clean,” agrees Lynn Wunderlich, farm adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension, Central Sierra Region. If you don’t buy from the big commercial sellers, you might find more bugs, she says. “If someone goes to a choose-and-cut farm, it’s possible that farmer doesn’t use as many pesticides.”

While aphids are fairly common (their signature is a sticky substance), “you aren’t going to find black widows or brown recluse spiders in Christmas trees,” Wunderlich says. They prefer to hang out in more protected surroundings, she says, such as the corner of your dark garage or shed.

Shaking the Hitchhikers

To lower the chances of getting a buggy tree, it’s a good idea to inspect the tree at the lot, Wunderlich says.


Doug Hundley, spokesman, National Christmas Tree Association.

Sam Minturn, executive director, California Christmas Tree Association.

Lynn Wunderlich, farm adviser, U.C. Cooperative Extension — Central Sierra, Placerville, CA.

Eric Day, manager, Insect Identification Lab, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

William Klinedinst, spokesman, Woodstream Corp., Lititz, PA.

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