Every Christmas tree can harbor insects, mites, or spiders. Some of these may remain on the tree into winter and could become active after being exposed to the warm temperatures inside the home. One common Christmas tree pest is the Cinara Aphid.
Cinara aphids are usually 1/8 to 1/4-inch long. They can be green or brown, although may appear black as a result of their small size. In addition to the green or brown color of their carapace, Cinara aphids usually have lighter spots and patches on their carapace. They also have short small backward-pointing tubes found on the last segment of their body called cornicles, which are used to emit pheromones or defensive secretions.
Cinara aphids survive temperatures well below freezing, thriving in cold weather when few predators are present. Consequently, live aphids are sometimes found on trees at harvest time. With warmer temperatures indoors, these aphids become active and start to reproduce by having live young. As the tree dries out, the aphids crawl from the tree to decorations, gifts and furnishings, causing worry to the tree owners. Because of their size and color, many people mistake them for ticks, causing them to panic. Despite their look, Cinara aphids are quite harmless and do not bite or sting, carry diseases, or feed on any other type of plant besides first. While Cinara aphids are not the only bugs that can be found on Christmas trees and are quite harmless, in comparison to other Christmas tree pest, they cause the most unwarranted fear.