Debunking a myth: Christmas tree tick danger

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Could you be bringing more than holiday spirit into your home when you opt for that real Christmas tree?

Many are concerned with warmer than usual temperature since Thanksgiving that ticks could be on your tree.

Color, type, and size, all things you are likely looking for in the perfect Christmas tree.

“I found the perfect tree. Charlie Brown would be proud.”

It’s what you’re not looking for that has some people worried.

“We have been asked are there ticks on the trees?”

Chip Ellms, who owns Ellms Family Farm, says that’s a question he’s gotten a lot this season.

Over the last two years, this farm was actually part of a joint study between Cornell Cooperative Extension and Agriculture and Markets to answer that very question.

“They have not found any yet on the farms that have been mowed and well kept,” Ellms said.

The good news is once you do find that perfect tree you won’t actually be bringing the ticks into your home it’s walking around out here in the field that you have to be careful about.

“It’s been a relatively mild year so farm,” Bryon Backenson, a research scientist with the Department of Health, said.

Backenson says the warmer weather is letting ticks survive a little longer into the season.

“People should take precautions. They should wear long pants and long sleeves, which is pretty much normal this particular time of year.”

He says you’ll only encounter ticks in the fields if you’re cutting your own tree. It is important to check yourself afterward.

“Check yourself over really well. And check areas you might not necessarily think about.”

If you do see any bugs on your tree, it’s likely an aphid, which can sometimes be mistaken for a tick.

“They are dark and are a little bit larger they have six legs they move pretty well.”

Backenson says the increased concern comes from a heightened awareness of Lyme disease in the Capital Region over the last 15 or 20 years.

“Since then more and more know somebody a family member or a friend who has Lyme disease. It makes people more aware of it.”

In case you’re still concerned, Ellms takes extra precautions.

“We shake them out and any spiders or bugs that may have settled in come flying out with the needles,” Ellms said.

Making sure there are no unwanted guests at Christmas this year.

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