This is the time of year when many families make their annual pilgrimage to Christmas tree farms to select the perfect tree. Unfortunately, a visit to a Christmas tree farm could result in an unexpected exposure to a blacklegged tick which is a known carrier of Lyme disease.

The ticks are not tree dwellers, so the ticks will not likely be found in the Christmas tree but may be encountered in the long grass or leaf litter located on the tree farm.  The blacklegged tick will hide in leaf litter when the temperatures are at or below freezing but will emerge when the temperature rises above freezing and crawl up long grass hoping to feed on a passing mammal such as a deer, dog or human.

This means that Christmas tree farm employees and visitors should take personal protection measures when temperatures rise above the freezing point. Tick habitats such as long grass and leaf litter should be avoided if possible. Socks should be pulled over pant legs and a bug spray containing DEET or Icardin should be applied to clothing or any exposed skin. Finally, a full body check of yourself and children should be conducted when you return home after any outdoor activity.

Enjoy the holiday tradition of cutting down a tree but remember every season is tick season.