This week, we received press releases from both Agawam, Mass.-based Braman Termite and Pest Elimination and Orlando, Fla.-based Massey Services. Both are aimed at homeowners to, as Braman quips, “heed signs that creatures may be stirring — or gnawing on festive décor.”
According to the experts at Braman, which has served southern New England since 1890, pests can put a heavy and even dangerous damper on holiday spirits.
“When you bring outdoor greenery into your home, you also bring anything that may be living in it,” said Jerry Lazarus, its third-generation owner. “This can mean beetles, spiders, mites, deer ticks and other ‘tree travelers.’ Some are nuisances, while others present an actual health hazard.”
The folks over at Massey Services agree. “Once we recover from the effects of our Thanksgiving feast, many of us will haul out the decorations and head to our favorite tree lot for an aromatic, fresh-cut fir, spruce or pine that will serve as the focal point for holiday parties and family gatherings over the next few weeks,” they wax in their release. “Since these trees are grown in a natural setting, we may end up bringing in a little more nature than we anticipated. There are several kinds of insects that spend the winter in these types of trees. Once you bring the tree into your nice warm home, the insects behave as though spring has arrived and they may become active again.”
Both companies share tips from the National Pest Management Association, which are perhaps worth passing along in some form to your own customers, such as:
- Shake off trees and garlands. Carefully inspect them for pests or eggs that can hide in branches before bringing them indoors.
- If copying a DIY natural decoration from Pinterest or other craft site, inspect all foliage outside the home before beginning projects.
- Store firewood on raised structures located at least 20 feet away from the home. Inspect firewood for pests and brush it off before bringing it indoors.
- After pulling decorations from storage, unpack them outdoors to check for pests like mice. Look inside boxes for droppings or gnaw marks. Examine string lights to ensure wiring is fully intact.
- When storing décor after the holidays, use durable, sealed containers that pests can’t chew through instead of cardboard boxes or plastic bags.
Massey’s release also includes these tips when bringing home a fresh-cut tree:
- Shake your tree before bringing it into your home. Many tree lots have mechanical shakers.
- Vacuum up pests using an attachment without a beater bar. (Crushing the bugs can create a stain.)
- Trees can be sprayed off with water and allowed to dry outdoors.
- If the tree is badly infested, return the tree for another one.
- Don’t use insecticide on your tree. The low humidity in most homes will usually kill these invaders in a short time.
Braman’s release notes that mice are not only potential disease carriers but may present a serious safety hazard as well.
“They have a habit of chewing insulation and wiring, which poses a very real fire risk,” Lazarus says. “Wires and rodents make a dangerous combination, and you’re bound to find both in storage areas such as attics and basements. An unsecured box of holiday decorations could look like home to a family of mice.”
Naturally, both companies end with a compelling call to action should the homeowner have questions or concerns: Bring in the pest management experts.