Many Americans have become aware of the risk of insect infestations that result from bringing a Christmas tree into a home. This past fall, this blog, and numerous online articles have repeatedly described how problematic insect pests can be brought into a home by hitching a ride on a Christmas tree.But very few, if any articles have mentioned the types of insects that commonly infest homes as a result of this tradition. According to Scientist and insect expert, Rob Johns, it is not easy to predict which common Christmas tree pests may become a problem within a home, as the insect pests that exist within forests are not the same ones that will infest a home after separating from a Christmas tree.
Rob Johns’ job is to make sure that commercial Christmas tree growers prevent their trees from becoming infected with insect-borne diseases. Unfortunately, Christmas trees are well known among experts for having a low tolerance for certain insect pests, most notably spruce bud worm and the gall midge. Aesthetic damage is the most basic form of Christmas tree damage, and this form of damage is often inflicted by insect pests that feed on a Christmas tree’s pine needles. It is also worth noting that the most troublesome Christmas tree pests are the ones that are most difficult to notice. For example, in Nova Scotia, the Boston gall midge is one of the primary killers of pine trees, but the damage they cause is typically not noticed until it is too late. These tiny insects lay their eggs within single pine needles, making them invisible to the human eye. This pest can lay millions of eggs within one single tree, resulting in all a tree’s pine needles dropping to the ground within a short time. The spruce bud worm is another insect pest that commonly infests older trees, or new trees that are stored near older trees. This insect pest is not well understood, as researchers are not sure why outbreaks of spruce bud worm only occur at 35 year cycles.
Insect pest-infested Christmas trees has already become a problem this year within the state of Utah. The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has been asking residents to inspect their Christmas trees for insect pests before bringing them indoors. The gypsy moth and the pine shoot beetle are the two insects that are of particular concern to authorities in Utah.
Have you ever found insects within a Christmas tree?