Decorating Tips for a Pest-Free Christmas
With the holidays fast approaching, many homeowners across the country will be putting the decorating of a Christmas tree and their homes on their long list of things to do. And while this festive activity can bring cheer to your house and put you and your family in the holiday spirit, it can also completely spoil your Christmas celebration.
And this is all because of bugs: bugs that use Christmas trees to hitch a ride inside your house, bugs taking up residence in your boxes of holiday decorations, bugs hiding in wreaths and firewood. To prevent unwanted critters from stirring in your house this Christmas, consider the tips below:
Check the tree before bringing it inside the house.
The simplest way insects and their eggs are brought into your nice, warm home during Christmas is via the Christmas tree and other greenery you’re planning to use for decorating your house. To rouse any hidden insects that might be cocooning their eggs in the boughs of your tree, make sure to give it a good look-over and thorough shake outdoors. Because spiders, moths, and mites are the most common insects to take up residence in live trees, look for and remove spider webs, cocoons, and egg sacs.
Inspect firewood carefully.
Nothing is better on a cold winter day than lighting up a roaring, crackling fire, and curling up in front of it with a good book and a cup of cocoa. But aside from the warmth and comfort a fireplace brings, it can also invite inside a number of household pests that tunnel and live inside firewood. Ants, termites, wood-boring beetles, and carpenter ants typically make their homes in piles of firewood, especially if it’s still damp and stored directly on the ground. To keep firewood bugs out in the cold, make sure to:
- Inspect and clean the firewood you bring inside using a broom or a vacuum cleaner
- Shake logs to dislodge insects that are clinging to the bark
- Bring only small quantities of firewood inside to be used immediately or after a few hours
- Stack firewood away from your house and off the ground in order to increase air circulation needed for drying
Unpack decoration boxes outdoors.
What better place to live for insects that usually dwell in dark, undisturbed places than your boxes of holiday decorations that remain pretty much untouched for eleven months a year? The likelihood of pest infestations increases when boxes are stored in humid, low-traffic rooms of the house such as basements, crawlspaces, sheds, or attics. Mice, rodents, and a host of other pests are likely to find their way inside your holiday decoration boxes during the off-season, especially if they contain edible ornaments, so it’s important to inspect them carefully before bringing them into your living area. Take your boxes outside and check for live or dead pests, droppings, gnaw marks, frayed wires, and other damage.
Once the holidays are over, you can limit the number of uninvited guests next year by making sure you:
Store properly: When it comes time to pack up all of your decorations for the next holiday season, use heavy-duty plastic containers with tight-fitting lids instead of cardboard boxes or bags to make sure rodents and insects cannot chew through. Although it may not seem a necessary investment, plastic containers can help prevent a heavy pest infestation by limiting the number of ways bugs can hitch a ride into your home. And, by storing Christmas ornaments and decorations in sealed hard plastic, you will also prolong their life and ensure they are safe while in storage.
Wash thoroughly: Give all fabric ornaments such as stockings, Santa hats, and Christmas linens a cycle through the washer and dryer to prevent live insects from spreading around the house. However, if your ornaments are made from delicate materials or have designs such as names and glitters, putting them through a normal wash & dry cycle could possibly shrink or damage them beyond repair. In this case, washing them by hand in warm water would reduce the possibility of mite and moth infestations.
These tips should help you reduce the likelihood of an infestation during this holiday season and prevent them from spoiling your Christmas spirit; it will also help preserve your family ornaments for many years to come. However, if you believe you are facing a heavy infestation or you want to be sure your house is 100% bug-free, contact your local pest control professional and request a thorough inspection of all problem areas.
About the Author
Daniel Mackie, co-owner of Greenleaf Pest Control, is a Toronto pest control expert well-known as an industry go-to guy, an innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions, and is a regular guest on HGTV. Mackie, along with business partner Sandy Costa, were the first pest control professionals in Canada to use detection dogs and thermal remediation for the successful eradication of bed bugs. In his free time, he is an avid gardener.