Monday, December 19, 2011

"Not A Creature Was Stirring..."

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

"Not A Creature Was Stirring..."

“Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even--- a squirrel, a snake, a spider, a grasshopper. Well, as we all know, the peace of Christmas can often be disturbed in unexpected ways.

Take the movie “Christmas Vacation.” Can anyone forget the scene when the squirrel jumps out of the Christmas tree and into Chevy Chase’s living room? Later in the movie a cat chews on an electrical wire and sets itself and the tree on fire. Is it slapstick comedy or reality?

One Christmas afternoon years ago, I was sipping my tea and enjoying a tranquil moment in my living room, when I was startled by something flying through the air. Before I could move, I was again surprised by a fluttering sound and a second object shooting from the Christmas tree. To my amazement, there were two grasshoppers staring at me from the carpet. The warmth of the house had convinced them that it was time to emerge from their home.

My sister had a similar experience when she got up one morning, after having decorated her tree, and found spiders crawling around the bottom of the tree. Every morning, she found the same invasion of the spiders going on. The tree was full of spider eggs. I still laugh at the thought of her jumping around the tree in her pajamas killing the spiders but refusing to take the tree down until Christmas night.

A family in Zebulon, NC recently discovered a corn snake in their newly erected artificial tree which had been stored in the garage. Their six year old discovered the foot long visitor when she was turning on the tree. Although the non-venomous snake won the hearts of the children, the mother wanted nothing to do with him. “Tinsel” as the kids named him now lives in the woods near their house.

It doesn’t seem to matter if the tree is real or fake, creatures will inhabit it. A little precaution is in order when bringing the tree into your house, although rarely would these accidental visitors be harmful to you or your home.

A vigorous shaking will likely loosen any inhabitants. Then inspect it visually for egg casings, etc. Aerosol inspect sprays are flammable and should not be sprayed on the Christmas tree. Most trees are free of invaders or the ones that are there are unnoticeable.

Pine bark adelgids are harmless and sedentary and do not leave the tree. Aphids are sometimes found, but they are usually host specific and will not feed on your houseplants. Sometimes certain bark beetles bore into the trunk of a tree, but they are not a threat because the wood in a home is too dry to attract them. Other creature such as mites, praying mantis, scale insects and spiders are other harmless insects which might be found on your tree.

Here’s hoping all of your holiday guests come with invitations!

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