How to Get Rid of Bugs in Acorns and Pine Cones

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How to Get Rid of Bugs in Acorns and Pine Cones

We love the look of pine cones and acorns on a fall table. To kill any insects hiding inside, first spread your collection of cones and acorns (not leaves!) on a cookie sheet and bake at 175 degrees for 1-1/2 to 2 hours with the door ajar. Check every 15 minutes to avoid scorching. After the cones and acorns cool, you can confidently place them on your table without worrying about unwanted “guests” making an appearance on your tablecloth. This process makes them safe for craft use too.

how to get rid of bugs in acorns

About the Author:

Garrett Thrasher is Vice President and General Manager of Thrasher Termite & Pest Control of So Cal, Inc., Chairperson of the San Diego District of the Pest Control Operators of California (PCOC), a member of the bedbugFREE network, and a member of the National Pest Management Association. Author of The Bed Bug Battle Plan: Field Tested Solutions for Bed Bug Extermination and Prevention (ISBN: 1500838209), Garrett’s solid understanding of bed bugs, their behavior, current outbreaks, and experience on camera has made him a leading contact for news and media outlets. He is also a sought after speaker on the topic of managing online reviews for positive impact. He has spoken at PestWorld and PestTech, and was featured in PCT Magazine and the PCT Podcast. Thrasher Termite & Pest Control of So Cal is accredited by QualityPro–the mark of excellence in pest management.


  1. carolyn April 23, 2014 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    I have some cones that I have placed on my front porch and they have been there for years, very large pine cones. I took them out today and cut them in half to make “flowers” for my grapevine wreath. I didn’t see any bugs but, to be safe I am going to spray the “flowers” with shellac. Isn’t that just as good as baking them?

    • Buzz May 14, 2014 at 3:53 pm - Reply

      We love shellac because it’s derived from renewable resources and has very low toxicity. Because shellac is basically harmless, it won’t kill any pests in your pine cones. However, since your pine cones are old, we wouldn’t worry about them anyway. Bugs tend to be attracted to pine-nutmeat (the stuff inside of the seeds). By now all the pine nuts in your old cones will have fallen out. Don’t be concerned by any pine nuts left inside, because if they had attracted bugs, the bugs would have come and gone. The only critters you’re likely to encounter are spiders. Dust or spritz them out with water.
      This sounds like a fun project. Please share a photo with us here or on Pinterest.

  2. Susan November 30, 2014 at 6:43 am - Reply

    If I put pine cones out after they have been debugged near my home will they attract bugs to my house?

    • Buzz December 1, 2014 at 12:46 pm - Reply

      Pine cones on a busy porch or in a wreath aren’t very attractive to bugs. In our experience, pine cones don’t attract bugs unless they still contain a lot of pine nuts. When pine cones contain pine nuts, they may attract raccoons or birds (raccoons literally ripped apart several of our pine cones that were in a decorative basket on the porch). Pine nuts may also attract beetles, but we’ve never experienced a beetle problem. That leaves spiders. Pine cones don’t necessarily attract spiders, but if you already have a lot of webs around, spiders may find that pine cones are another great places to attach webs. Just knock off any webs with a broom. Black widows are the only garden spider you really have to worry about, and they stay away from decorative displays. Seriously, black widows are shy and build webs in low, sheltered locations such as water meter boxes, wood piles or under lawn furniture away from the house.

      (Here’s more info you don’t really need to know…the members of the Northern California Karuk tribe turn pine nuts from gray pines and digger pines into beads. They file off both ends of the hard pine nut, then poke out the nut meat with a paper clip. They string these oval shaped beads into necklaces and use them as decorations on ceremonial clothing.)

  3. Erin August 13, 2015 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    Is the drying process/length of time the same for giant sugar pinecones?

    • Buzz August 14, 2015 at 12:01 pm - Reply

      We love sugar pinecones! If the cone is fully open, then use the heat process time recommended. If the cone is partially closed, use the recommended time, but put parchment paper or other oven safe paper under the cone to catch any sap that may be released.

  4. Deb October 25, 2015 at 7:26 am - Reply

    I failed to read about how to prepare pine cones for crafting and made 18 ornaments. Now concerned about the bug factor, we plan on putting them all in a storage room and setting off a bug bomb. Will this be adequate to get rid of any bugs that could be in them?

    • Buzz October 26, 2015 at 3:50 pm - Reply

      We are not fans of bug bombs. They are like using a shotgun to kill a mouse. Regarding your ornaments, if the pine cones are open, visually inspect them for critters. A small paint brush is useful for poking crevices. Also read our other responses to critters in pine cones. Pine cones are not nearly as bad as acorns in harboring pests so you may have nothing to worry about.
      However, if you are worried, how about sealing your ornaments in plastic baggies for three weeks? The bag will capture any insects that hatch or that are currently in the cones. If nothing appears in three weeks, decorate away!
      (We’d love to see your ornaments. Please send us a pin on Pinterest)

  5. Joe Belland November 30, 2016 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    Just wanted to say that I just used the Live Chat feature and received some really useful information about the pine cones I picked up, baked and will be using on my artificial Christmas tree. Very helpful people here – thanks!

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