Tis the season… for un-festive Christmas pests

There is always something magical about putting up the Christmas decorations and either dusting down the artificial tree (life-like or not) or trouping out to choose your fresh-cut tree to fill the living room with festive cheer.

152143496-mouse-with-christmas-baubleHowever, spiders, insects and their eggs can easily be brought into your home on Christmas trees, wreaths or firewood. Any eggs laid in foliage will think your nice warm home is the onset of spring and duly hatch. Eggs laid in marble-size silken sacs can hatch after several days indoors with spiderlings emerging in dense clusters. Any left over bird nesting material within the branches, may contain parasites such as bird mites or insects such as beetles. None of these are likely to cause you any harm, but preventing these accidental invaders entering your home to begin with is probably the easiest solution.

There are some simple precautions you can take to keep creep crawlies out this Christmas:

1)    Vigorously shake a fresh cut tree before bringing it into your home. This should help remove loose needles as well as insects and eggs.

2)    Inspect branches and carefully remove any bird nesting material left in the tree that shaking hasn’t dislodged.

3)    Store your firewood on a raised platform, located at least 20 feet away from your home and check it for pests before bringing it indoors.

4)    If you do notice insects gathering on walls or windows once your tree is indoors, remove them quickly using a vacuum cleaner.

The delightful story ‘The mice who ate Christmas’ based on the classic story surrounding the writing of the modern carol Silent Night – could turn out to be much more literal, if you have kept your decorations stuffed in undisturbed, cardboard boxes or plastic bags in the loft or back of the garage all year.

523197005-christmas-pestsTake your boxes of decorations outside and inspect them carefully, checking the outside for chewed holes. Also check inside for any signs of gnawing, nest building or mice droppings. Check tree lights carefully as any gnawing damage to wiring could be a potential fire hazard.

If you do spot any of these signs – dispose of the decorations carefully, as mice carry diseases such as Salmonella, Leptospirosis and Hantavirus, spreading them via urine trails they leave as they move around.

After Christmas, when packing your decorations away for next year, it’s better to invest in sturdy, durable plastic or metal containers with sealed lids to store them in (a good excuse to hit the January sales). So that pests can’t chew through them, instead of using cardboard boxes and plastic bags again.

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