A warning from pest control company Safer Brand might have even die-hard Christmas tree lovers opting for a fake one this year.
As many as 25,000 bugs are lurking on the average Christmas tree, according to an infographic posted on Safer’s website. These pests, according to the Pennsylvania-based company, commonly include aphids, spiders, mites, adelgids, pine needle scale, sawflies, praying mantises and bark beetles.
While Safer says these critters are relatively harmless — and, what’s more, most can’t survive long in the warm, dry conditions of the average home—some of them can be pretty inconvenient. Squishing aphids, for example, can leave a stain on furniture and fabric, and mites can cause your tree’s needles to die and fall off early. Praying mantises are arguably the worst offenders of the bunch, as their eggs — as many as 400 in all — can hatch after being left indoors for a prolonged period of time.
WATCH THIS: Home Hack: 3 Ways to Decorate with String Lights
Creeped out? There are a number of preventative steps you can take to rid your holiday decorations of hangers-on. Safer recommends removing any branches with visible eggs or nests; leaving the tree outside or in the garage for a few days before bringing it indoors; shaking the tree to manually remove bugs; vacuuming up bugs you can spot on or near the tree; and, if you’re really serious, treating the tree with either diatomaceous earth or neem oil to kill any pests that remain.
Safer cited a Norwegian insect expert, who found that locally grown, hardwood trees tend to carry fewer insects. The expert added that “there are plenty of insects and bugs in potted plants that are regular features in most households.”
In other words: Don’t freak out. Just be aware that when your family gathers around the tree this year, you may have more guests than you planned.