Subject: Sudden bug problem
Location: New York City
December 19, 2012 1:56 pm
Today, I noticed several bugs dead or dying on the floor near the windows (which were closed – it’s winter, and I live in New York City – apt on the 6th floor of a high rise). I’ve never seen these bugs before – when I started looking around, I found a bunch more (altogether, nearly 30), all on the floor or baseboards, almost all looked like they were dying. A handful were already dead. Only two seemed to be moving normally. I have no idea where they came from, why they appeared suddenly, or why they were dying. Their bodies are about 0.5cm long and 0.25cm wide. We put a Christmas tree in this room, but it’s been here for nearly two weeks with no sign of the bugs; we don’t keep any food in this area, it’s just a small sitting room (picture included). Any info you can provide on what these are and how we can keep them away would be MUCH appreciated – thank you so much for your help!!
Signature: Mari in Manhattan
Every year we answer several letters for folks who find unwanted visitors in their homes around Christmas. Many creatures enter homes on live Christmas Trees. This is a Giant Conifer Aphid in the genus Cinara. Aphids feed on sap and fluids from the host plant. If the Christmas Tree was in place for two weeks before the appearance of the Giant Conifer Aphids, we suspect there was enough sap to allow the Aphids to feed. As the tree dried out, the Aphids no longer had a food source and as they were dying, they were attempting to locate another living tree, to no avail. Since there is no other food, the Giant Conifer Aphids will die indoors. They will not harm you or your home, but they can be considered a nuisance. In addition to Giant Conifer Aphids, other insects that have entered the home on a Christmas Tree include Sawflies, Bagworms and Preying Mantids which hatch from oothecae laid on the trees. When we first began this site, we often got reports, usually without photos, of Preying Mantids hatching from Christmas Trees, but we haven’t gotten any recent reports since 2005. Perhaps if more Preying Mantids were living in the Christmas Tree farms, there would be fewer reports of Giant Conifer Aphids which are our newest and most frequent reports of critters coming into the home on Christmas Trees.