Subject: What’s the insect that came as a bonus with my Christmas Tree?
Location: Austin, Texas
February 1, 2016 2:41 pm
For the second time in my life I have managed to purchase a live Christmas tree that weeks later developed an insect issue. This time the insect is different than the first. In my Google search to determine what it was this year, I came across your site and another individual’s issue with a Christmas tree pest–which for them turned out to be the Giant Conifer Aphid.
Thanks to their picture and your site I now know what my insect was the first time. Now I’m wondering what this new one is. The aphids never left the tree and I didn’t notice them until I was taking it down. Those were also on a different type of tree for me–a Fraser Fir.
This year I bought a rare type of tree–a Natural Noble. While Noble Firs are common enough for purchasing, Natural Nobles are not–at least not where I live. It’s a beautiful and expensive tree that I discovered at a particular local nursery in Austin, Texas. I’d never seen one available before at a Christmas tree stand or a nursery. This is now the 3rd year I’ve bought this type of tree but the first time it has come with bugs.
The other night (4-5 weeks after purchasing the tree) I noticed what I thought was a large mosquito in my kitchen. Then I noticed a second one. Then the lightbulb went off in my mind to go look at the trunk of the tree as this time of year there aren’t mosquitos. Yep, sure enough there were insects parading up and down the trunk, in different sizes. They were fast movers. While the image may make them appear large they really aren’t. Like I said, they look about like a giant mosquito.
They are winged, or at least many of them were, but I never saw them flying. They were either dead under the tree or dead in another room. The ones on the trunk were very active but not flying. I don’t think those had wings or were so juvenile they couldn’t be seen yet. Overall they’re pretty fragile and when you touch a dead one its legs cling to the skin.
I looked online quite a bit for insects that come in with Christmas trees but couldn’t find anything that looked like this or that had wings. Any idea what this is?
Signature: Michele (Austin, Tx)
A living Christmas Tree is host to many creatures that continue to develop in the warm indoor conditions of the heated home. For the past few years, we have gotten submissions of Giant Conifer Aphids in the genus Cinara plaguing homemakers. Your image depicts winged adult Giant conifer Aphids similar to the one in this BugGuide image.
Thank you for the positive identification and your very timely response. I’m so sorry that I didn’t offer you more of a challenge. You get emailed about these bugs a lot and I was convinced they were something other than the Giant Conifer Aphid. These winged adults look so different in size and shape from what I experienced the first time.
Nonetheless, thank you again for taking the time to respond to me. I’ve had a lot of fun perusing your website.