Do you prefer an artificial or live Christmas tree?

If your household prefers the latter, then help ensure your family has a very merry Christmas by doing this one thing. It could make all the difference:

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Check your tree.

However, giving your Christmas tree a simple visual once-over isn't going to cut it. It also helps to know what you're even looking for. Fair warning, if you hate creepy crawlies then this next part may make you squeamish. According to experts at Penn State,

like other living outdoor trees, [Christmas trees] can harbor overwintering insects and other arthropods. Some of these arthropods can remain on a tree when it is brought indoors and can become active when exposed to warm indoor temperatures.

I don't like the word "arthropod" and I certainly don't like the thought of them "becoming active" in my home!

What to Look For:

While farmers take great measures to avoid these invasive insects such as using pesticides and mechanical tree shakers at u-cut farms, despite our best efforts you can't catch them all.

The experts at Penn State go on to explain that, "none of the species that might be introduced into a home via a real Christmas tree are dangerous to the home, its contents, or occupants." Be that as it may, I still don't want to share a living space with them!

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Spotted Lanternfly

Experts say that while unlikely, there is a slim chance the Spotted Lanternfly could be hiding within your Christmas tree. Adults lay their eggs in the fall to hatch in the spring;  These "egg masses" are often found on the bark of tree trunks covered by a putty-like substance.

If found simply scrape off the affected area, douse the eggs in rubbing alcohol before disposing, and then you're free to continue your holiday celebrations!

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Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

The Michigan DNR has been urging residents for years to check their Hemlock trees for the invasive Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA). These insects quite literally suck the life of your Hemlock tree! Their eggs can be quite difficult to discern in winter as they look just like snowflakes, however these little white flecks are typically found at the base of the stem.

The good news: it's less likely HWA will make their way into your home this Christmas season as Hemlock trees aren't often used for decorating because of their poor needle retention. So at least we've got that going for us!

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