Friday, December 23, 2011

Go Ahead And Yank That Pest Filled Vegetation Into The House

Should I worry about bugs in my Christmas tree?

"Dear Cecil:

As I was decorating my Christmas tree this year I began to wonder if I was putting myself at risk from insects. I don't like spiders much, and it would be even worse to have a Lyme-diseased tick bite me. Are Christmas trees fumigated, or are we bringing termites, etc, into our homes every holiday season ?

Cecil replies:

Honestly, Doug, what a question! Don’t we have enough to stress about this time of year? Have some eggnog, sit back in your easy chair, and admire that tree. Now that you’re comfortable, here’s something that will answer all your questions.

It’s from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

It’s called Christmas Tree Pest Manual.

It’s 179 pages long.

Now, Doug, if you’re going to shriek, next time wait till you finish swallowing the eggnog. You know how the feds exaggerate. Let’s start with something more calming. Here’s an article from the 1905 Washington Post. The headline reads:

LOADED WITH INSECTS Christmas Trees Abound with Invisible Bug Life. FORM PRETTY DECORATION

Now there’s a positive mental attitude for you — they’re not vermin, they’re a pretty decoration! The headline continues:

More Than Twenty-five Species, All Perfectly Harmless, Infest the Trees in Countless Millions and Add Material Beauty to the Ornamentation — Their Habits Discussed by an Expert.

Doug, please, put down that kerosene. Listen to what the article says about scale insects, a type of plant lice. Though “exceedingly destructive and harmful,” these bugs have the advantage of looking like white dots. “Think of it,” the above-mentioned expert is quoted as saying, “of buying a Christmas tree already decorated, radiant with hundreds of little shining white specks resembling snowflakes. They should make an ideal Christmas tree.”

Ah, Doug, now you’ve done it. It’s going to be hell getting those scorch marks off the ceiling."

When I worked in the xmas tree business for several decades up in the great NW, the chances of insect pests surviving long enough to bedevil homes actually were slim to none, except for one. When I took trees over to a Boise mall to sell I can't tell you how many times I was stung by yellowjackets when I opened them. Being baled up the trees protected the damn things from freezing temps and rough handling, only to be royally pissed when released.


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