HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Buying the perfect Christmas tree isn't always easy.
Ikumi Kaay found that out firsthand as she searched for her first ever tree.
"This one has some brown parts," Kaay said. "What's this because of?"
While she made sure to ask questions, one thing she never asked: how to get rid of what could be living inside.
Local insect experts say there could be more than 20,000 bugs in one tree, including mites, ticks, and spiders.
The majority of creatures are harmless, and most die off once inside your home.
But there are some things you can do to avoid hidden surprises:
- Ask your supplier if they have a mechanical shaker.
- If not, shake it at the store, or outside your home.
- Remove bird nests.
- Don't use aerosol bug killing sprays, because they're flammable.
Creatures aren't the only issue with real trees. Allergies can be a problem, too.
Experts say it's not pine pollen, but mold that's the issue.
Don't use a leaf blower, because it can make it worse. Instead, try a HEPA air filter.
Artificial trees can be a problem too, especially if they've sat for months, and collected dust.
If you're going real, ask what the store does to remove bugs.
Richard Devine, owner of National Tree and Shrub, says they have a plan to get rid of the little critters before they reach your front door.
"We hose everything down when it comes in here, Devine said. "We wash out the needles that have been in the middle of the tree, and our trees are shipped in refrigerated trucks, so they're pretty cold."
A de-bugging process National Tree and Shrub takes seriously so shoppers can focus their questions on something else.