Nottingham

Christmas tree aphids invade Derby couple's home

Andy and Stacey Sykes
Image caption Andy and Stacey Sykes had to chop up their Christmas tree after an aphid invasion

Thousands of tiny insects have invaded a couple's home after eggs hatched on their Christmas tree.

Andy and Stacey Sykes discovered the aphids all over their lounge floor, soon after bringing a fir tree home from Ikea in Nottingham.

The pair, from Derby, have now had to chop up their tree just days before Christmas after Mrs Sykes said they made her feel "crawly".

Ikea has offered customers who have found bugs in their trees a refund.

"When we came into the house it was fine, nothing there. Plugged the lights in, it was great," said Mrs Sykes.

But later they discovered the floor was "covered" in insects.

Image caption Thousands of the bugs, some measuring 5mm to 6mm, hatched inside the couple's home

"I feel just all itchy and crawly now, it's not very nice."

"There were hundreds of them. They weren't mobile, they were lying on their backs twitching their legs," Mr Sykes said.

"I suppose it's a natural thing and it's lived outside for a long time but I've had live Christmas trees for five years. This is a new thing for me.

"At first I thought there were hundreds and hundreds of spiders on the floor," he said.

As they started to chop the tree, more and more insects appeared, so the couple began vacuuming them up.

"The tree's going. I don't want it here anymore. I don't want to come into the lounge and find the room's full of insects again."

An Ikea spokesman said some customers had found insects on trees bought at their stores. They could bring them back for a refund, he said.

"Live plants and trees are a natural home for insects, however we understand it can be alarming for customers to find these in a tree in their home."

The bugs were likely to die within a couple of days, he added.


Aphid invasion

Image copyright Science Photo Library

Aphids are harmless, according to principal lecturer in biosciences at Nottingham Trent University, Chris Terrell-Nield.

"I have seen the picture - I thought they looked a bit strange - they had more legs than they ought to but then I realised it was just such a dense colony, they were sitting on top of each other," he said.

"Christmas trees are living things. They are grown outside in the big outdoors under forest conditions and they can be exposed to all sorts of inhabitants.

"The growers control the pests but the aphids are just eggs on the tree and you really can't see them unless you look really closely.

"You bring them in the house where it's nice and warm - they think it's spring and they start hatching.

"Worse than that they are also parthenogenetic which means they can reproduce without mating."


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