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If you’re planning to get a real Christmas tree instead of a fake one this year, there’s a chance you could be bringing home tons of little critters!

Don’t let that discourage you, though. There’s a pretty simple fix.

The most effective way to eliminate Christmas tree bugs is to shake the tree off using a mechanical tree shaker, which many farms and lots offer as a free service when you buy from them. In addition to taking care of bugs, the shaker will get rid of things like dirt, needles and leaves.

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If you visit a farm that doesn’t have a mechanical tree shaker, here’s what recommends:

When you get to a clear spot, plant the trunk on the ground, grab it above shoulder height, then shake it back and forth vigorously. (In case you’re wondering, tying a tree to the roof of the car is not an effective way to dislodge insects.)

And after you bring the tree home, leave it in your garage for a day (at least 24 hours) before decorating it.

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What types of bugs can live in Christmas trees? According to Safer Brand, the major insects include: adelgids, aphids, bark beetles, mites, praying mantises, psocids, scale insects, spiders, moths, sawflies, weevils, bark lice and webworms.

If you already have your tree in the house, the good news is that most bugs living in Christmas trees are harmless and will not lead to an infestation — so no need to call an exterminator!

However, you may want to keep a vacuum near the tree just in case you find some bugs.

Mike Timmermann, |