May 9, 2021

The Editor speaks: Your Christmas tree could be home to up to 25,000 insects

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“But don’t worry about those little things”

The Cayman Islands Department of Agriculture (DOA) is quite right to warn importers of Christmas trees concerning the steady increase in interceptions of pests of quarantine importance in tree shipments since 2015.

Last year almost half of the trees imported here had to be destroyed because of them carrying invasive pests.

DOA Director Adrian Estwick said the threat of invasive pest species in imported trees is real and can be far reaching.

“Many insects are non-host plant specific, also known as polyphagous, which means they will feed on a wide range of host plants. When introduced into a new environment they may adapt and over time become a pest of plants on which they were never previously recorded as a pest. This is true of many of the scale insects, a pest group common to pines,” he said.

Estwick also cited the effects of the Pine Tortoise Scale (Toumeyella parvicornis) that is believed to have been introduced on Christmas trees and has become a major pest in the Turks & Caicos Islands in particular, placing a significant threat on entire Pineyard ecosystems. To date, no viable control for the pest has been found and if the current trends continue the likely outcome is the complete loss of that country’s native pine.

Please see the DOA press release published today here on iNews Cayman titled “Cayman Islands Department of Agriculture working with Christmas tree importers to expedite shipments”.

And even after the tree has been allowed to be sold to you and is now in your house beware.

An article published on the New York Daily News website has this article with the startling headline “Your Christmas tree could be home to up to 25,000 insects “!

The article by by Constance Gbbs warns:

“According to Safer Brand, a pest control company, living Christmas trees can have up to 25,000 bugs living in them.

“Many of these bugs are hibernating inside the tree and when you bring them into your warm home, they can wake up and want to explore. According to Safer, most of these insects are harmless, and will often dry out and die off before even leaving their tree home.

“Bjarte Jordal, associate professor and insect expert at the University Museum of Bergen in Norway, told the company, “you should by no means clean or flush the tree free of bugs, as this will damage the tree. “

So what should you do?

Apparently nothing.

Professor Jordal says, “Anyway, there is nothing to fear. You need to take into consideration that there are plenty of insects and bugs in potted plants that are regular features in most households.”


As Bob Marley sang “Don’t worry about a thing, Every little thing is gonna be alright”.

Especially those ‘every little thingS’!

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