Why You Should Never Bug Spray Your Christmas Tree, No Matter How Many Critters It Has

I love real Christmas trees: The lights, the ornaments, the smell, the bugs… wait, what? Yes, it’s true. There may be bugs in your tree. There are things you can do to keep the critters out of your house, but, first, a Christmas PSA: Don’t bug spray your Christmas tree. Really, do not do this. Your tree should be a place for gathering with friends and family, a symbol of cheer and joy and love and all that stuff. It should not be on fire.

There are a variety of bugs that can live inside Christmas trees, and a single tree can have thousands of critters inside. Fortunately, most of these insects aren’t dangerous to humans or pets, and most of them will die on their own without their natural, foresty habitats to sustain them.

It’s understandable, however, that you don’t want to bring any bugs, no matter how benign, into your home, so there are a few things you can do to keep unwanted visitors out. First, many tree sellers will have mechanical shakers on hand that can shake a tree hard enough to free eggs and insects. If your tree lot doesn’t have a mechanical shaker, you can do it yourself by placing your tree’s base on the ground, grasping it at the top and giving it a vigorous shake. (This would also be good for getting out all of your holiday frustrations). It’s also a good idea to give your tree a thorough once over and manually remove any bugs or eggs you see.

What you should absolutely NOT do is spray any kind of pesticide on your tree. Aerosol sprays are flammable, and your tree is already flammable (by virtue of being a tree). According to USA Today, there are about 230 fires caused by Christmas trees every year — that’s not a huge amount, relatively speaking, but a burning tree can cause serious damage, injury, and even death. A dry Christmas tree is particularly dangerous — just look at how quickly one can go up in flames:

National Fire Protection Association on YouTube

Add a bunch of flammable bug spray onto that, and you’ve got yourself a major disaster.

There are a few simple things you can do to prevent Christmas tree fires. First, DON’T SPRAY BUG SPRAY ON THEM (or any other flammable chemicals). Second, be sure to water them regularly — a watered tree burns much more slowly than a dry one. Finally, practice some common sense when it comes to fires and lights: Keep your tree a good distance away from fireplaces and candles. Every year, check your Christmas lights to make sure that the cords are not damaged or worn out, and don’t leave your tree’s lights on when you’re away or sleeping.

Images: Evelyn Chin/Unsplash