One of the first things we think of doing to bring the Christmas spirit into our home is adding a live Christmas tree. These trees smell great and are an excellent way to harbor the holiday spirit.

But before you gather around the tree to open presents remember that your tree (if live) spent quite a lot of time growing up outdoors, and there is a host of critters that could be calling it home.

Many people don’t think bugs are an issue in the winter, but they definitely can be. After all, it’s cold out, and so bugs are looking for a nice, warm place to camp.

What’s more, tree-dwelling insects will go dormant in the cold, kind of like hibernating. However, once they’re inside your warm living room, they’ll come back to life.

There are seven common insects that make their homes in Christmas trees, and the list includes aphids, spiders and mites, adelgids, pine needle scale, sawfly, praying mantises, and bark beetles.

Besides the fact that it is disgusting to have all these creepy crawlies in your house, aphids will also leave a purple or red stain if you squash them, bark beetles will eat away at the trunk of the tree, and—the kicker—praying mantises can bring up to 400 eggs with them that will hatch several weeks after being indoors.

The types of bugs inhabiting your jolly Christmas tree are mostly harmless and won’t destroy your home (though, don’t squash the bugs as it may leave marks on furniture and walls).

Don’t see any bugs? Keep an eye out for other signs of their presence, like feeding trails, eggs, or burrows.

However, the wildlife that comes along with your Christmas tree is not dangerous and does not pose a risk to your home. It’s just that you might not want to invite them to your Christmas party.

Keeping bugs out

There are a few preventative measures you should take if you don’t want insects to invade your home over the holidays.

First, inspect the branches and the tree trunk of your tree, making sure there are no visible egg sacs or other infestations.

Second, let the tree sit in your garage for at least a day, so the insects have a chance to vacate the tree.

Third, shake the tree vigorously before bringing it indoors.

And lastly, you could spray neem oil on your tree, and it will kill all remaining insects, but you should never spray insecticides because they are flammable.

But if you want to avoid the bugs altogether, why not opt for a fake tree. It’s just as festive, and there won’t be any unwelcome guests at your holiday gathering.