If the Christmas season truly is all about charity, then those with a real tree can consider themselves extra generous. An article in Science Daily has found that along with that wonderful coniferous smell, those pines and spruces are bringing in uninvited house guests... Researchers at University Museum of Bergen estimate that 25,000 "insects, mites, and spiders are sound asleep inside the tree."
Among critters living dormant inside a tree are springtails, bark lice, mites, moths and the odd spider, according to insect expert, UMB Associate Professor Bjarte Jordal.
"If you pound the tree on a white cloth before you throw it out after Christmas, you will discover quite a number of small bugs," says Jordal. Although the bugs are technically hibernating within the tree, they are said to 'liven' up when brought into the warmth of your home.
"It’s all down to stimulus. Upon feeling the heat and awakened by the light, they believe that springtime has arrived and spring back to life."
Apparently there are fewer creepies contained within a farmed tree than one felled in, say, your backyard. And certain types of trees, such as the Norwegian Pine, contain more bugs than other varieties.
But before you get too paranoid, Jordal believes the bugs tend to stay put within the tree, where they feed, although a substantial number of mites may contribute to allergic reactions in susceptible persons.
Concerned about tics? Apparently that's possible, too, though the odds are minimal. Just don't let your dog lay under the tree...
Got the heebie jeebies yet? Sorry eco-warriors, but this is one reason I'm grateful I went artificial. My goodwill doesn't extend to arachnids.