Cutting down a Christmas tree? Clinic warns ‘check your pets and selves’ after tick found in family’s home

An animal clinic in Canada shared a warning to those celebrating the holidays to “check your pets and selves” when bringing natural Christmas trees indoors after a family found a tick in their home.

The Cochrane Animal Clinic, located in Alberta, Canada, shared a photo of the bug on its Facebook page and said it was found in a home where the tree was privately cut down.

“While it’s believed to be uncommon for them to be transported via Christmas trees, ticks can be active at temperatures greater than 4 degrees Celsius (39.2 degrees Fahrenheit) and transfer from vegetation to various hosts while completing their life cycle,” the clinic wrote.

The animal clinic said it sees ticks on many different species year round, and advised families to check their pets and selves when bringing a natural tree inside for the holidays.

“Fred the tick” is pictured in a provided photo. (Photo credit: Cochrane Animal Clinic)

Jim Wilson, president of the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation, echoed that ticks are not common on trees — but people can sometimes encounter them where they’re cutting down the tree.

“I would be more concerned with the habitat that people are going out into to get these trees,” Wilson told Vancouver’s News 1130. “That is putting them at a higher risk than actually the tick on the tree itself. Ticks don’t generally reside in trees. They’re usually on the ground, under decaying leaf litter or grassy areas, under shrubbery — that sort of thing.”

Wilson continued: “The decaying action of the leaves or grass creates heat and they get under there and live in that little warmer environment.”

Wilson told the station that once they’re in the home or on clothes, it can be difficult to get rid of the insects.

“A lot of people, when they come in from the outdoors, they go and throw their clothes in the washing machine, that’s not effective,” Wilson added. “The ticks will float to the surface of the water, climb out of the machine and now they’re in your house. If you think you may have brought ticks in on clothing, take your clothes off and throw them in the dryer. Put the dryer on for 15 minutes and that will kill any tick.”

The most common critters potentially living in your Christmas tree are not dangerous and include aphids, which look similar to ticks, as well as spiders, mites, praying mantises and bark beetles, according to Safer Brand, a company that sells gardening and pest control products.

Experts say to lower your chances of getting a buggy tree, shake it out before setting it up and wash it with a hose.

This story was reported from Cincinnati.