A study by Bjart Jordal Associate Professor at the University of Bergen , “There are a number of insects hiding in a Christmas tree.” The bugs come into your house like on a Trojan Horse being “welcomed” into you home while hiding in the inner workings of the bark.
During the summer months, the bugs are active and…well…doing what bugs do: Eat, Poop, and Procreate. Later the cooler months come around and the bugs on the evergreen start their winter hibernation. The bugs will “empty their bodies of fluids and produce a chilled liquid and are completely inactive.” There is very little eating, pooping and “making out” during this cooler period of time. There’s less food during the colder months and hibernation allows them to remain alive while they live off their summer reserves. It’s kinda like a bear when they hibernate during the winter only the bugs “sleep” much, much deeper.
Then comes the end of November. The fir tree farms begin to harvest their crops or adventurers head out to the hills to cut down their own evergreen tree for the Christmas holidays. The tree with “as many as 25,000 individual” bugs is then brought into our warm and inviting home with extended (though artificial) light. As far as these bugs are concerned, SPRING HAS COME!! They, in a sense, wake up.
Now, to the questions that are going through your head right now with the one main question I asked as the title of this article: “Do Lice Live In My Christmas Tree?” The answer to that question is: Yes. But, not head lice. (WHEW!). And for this homesteader who pays his bills as a School Nurse (http://www.goseethenurse.com), this is GREAT NEWS despite some of the “information” found on the Internet. The bugs found in the trees that were sampled in this study were “springtails, bark lice, mites, moths and the odd spider.”
Bark Lice (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psocoptera)
Head Lice (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pediculosis)
Fortunately, the artificial spring of our warm living rooms do not provide a suitable environment for these bugs to survive. The “insects don’t live off the tree, (the bugs) only (live) in it. As they cannot feed on the limited plants found in most households, the bugs will quickly dry out and die.” This is good. We all know that we all have some bugs in our homes already. Bugs are in our house plants, on our pets, and even on us. They piggyback on our clothes and fly into the house when the door is left open too long (or just long enough). Other than the absolute anomaly, a biting, stinging or disease-spreading bug coming into your home on your Christmas tree is highly unlikely (as evidence by the lack of widespread accounts and Internet “news”). The chances of catching head lice, body lice or pubic lice from a Christmas tree are about as likely as Ed McMahon coming back to this world and delivering a million dollar check and balloons to your front door.
If you do want to reduce the number of insects and other bugs that you may bring into your home on a Christmas tree, Bjart suggests, “I would recommend that you get a locally grown tree, as this is most likely to have a limited fauna.”
How Many Bugs Did Your Tree Have?
I used the past tense here. Hibernating bugs find great hiding spots to hold out the winter in. Birds and other hungry predators search for these sleeping morsels. The “smart” bugs find a nice place to hide. At the end of the season, when the bugs are dry and dead, take you tree (after you strip it of the decorations) and give it a shake over a white sheet or cloth. Bjart says “you will have to get out a clean, white sheet and shake the tree” in order to see many of what was hiding in your tree (and in your house) over the previous month.”
Note: During my research on this topic, I found articles like this one from Clear Lice: https://blog.clearlice.com/your-christmas-tree-may-have-lice-on-it/
Not to be judgmental, but the chances of developing pediculosis from a Christmas tree is “Little to None” with “Little” being Jewish and not celebrating Christmas anyway.
Merry Christmas to y’all. Celebrate without fretting over the bugs that are in your tree.