Are There Bugs Among The Branches Of Your Christmas Tree?

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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - It's peak time to buy a fresh cut Christmas tree to decorate for the holiday.

But some wonder if they might be bringing something else into the house, ticks.

However, the experts agree the fear is unfounded.

"Getting a Christmas tree at a Christmas tree farm or a roadside operation should not have any concerns for an individual about brining ticks inside with the tree," said Jim Dill, a pest specialist at the University of Maine.

With the recent temperatures dropping below freezing at night, ticks are not going to be active now, and they don't live where Christmas trees are grown.

"Ticks don't overwinter on trees, they overwinter under leaf litter and edges of property lines, rock walls, field edges. That's where ticks are found," said Len Price of Nutkin Knoll Farm. "And they're not active this time of year, so they wouldn't be in the trees in any case. These are cultivated trees in full sun in the field, typically not tick habitat. Ticks are in the undergrowth, more moist environments."

While Lyme disease carrying deer ticks are not likely going to be on your tree, that doesn't mean you might not find some other harmless bugs among the branches said Dill. "The thing that we usually see coming in with Christmas trees are little spiders. Now I'm not, and it's not hundreds of spiders, but you can bring in a tree and there may be 2 or 3 or 4 little spiders will come off from there, once in a while an aphid or something."

But Dill says you have nothing to fear and Price has been growing and cutting Christmas trees for more than three decades. He believes the tree you bring home is safe. "I've never seen any evidence of anything that would give me any cause for concern."

"There's nothing there that we're aware of in this state," said Dill. "That is going to be coming off in your Christmas tree that's going to cause you any real concern in your home."