Bob Oley, PE, MSPH
Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention Expert
Public Health and Site Consultant

Holiday Hints for Lyme Prevention

It is that time of year again when we are getting in the holiday spirit. We are thinking about going out and buying a Christmas tree - or cutting one down on our own. 

Before doing so however, keep in mind that a holiday surprise may be waiting for you in the branches of the tree: that seemingly inescapable deer tick. Adult deer ticks are looking this time of year for a host to feed on, and that host could be you, a family member, or your pet.


Fortunately, deer ticks will not live very long on your tree inside your home. They require high humidity to survive, and your home just does not present that humid an environment. So if the tick does not climb onto you within the first couple of days of the tree being in your home, the odds are very good they will simply fall off the tree and die.


So, a few helpful hints are in order:

  1. If you insist on cutting your own tree down, take the necessary precautions to prevent getting bitten by a tick when you are out in the woods and bringing your tree home. Wear clothing treated with tick repellent and treat your exposed skin with repellent as well. And just as importantly, carefully check yourself and family members for ticks at the end of the day.


  1. Consider buying a tree from a seller where you know the trees have been away from the tree farm for some days or weeks. This will give the tree an opportunity to shed itself of ticks.


  1. Keep your tree outside for a few days before bringing it into your home. Keep it stored on a hard surface such as a porch or driveway, and not your lawn or garden areas where deer ticks are likely to be present.


  1. Spray your Christmas tree skirt with permethrin, a tick repellent you can purchase from sporting good stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods or Cabelas. Any live ticks, which may come off the tree and land on the skirt, will be killed by the insecticide.


By taking a few simple precautions, you can enjoy your holiday season without having to worry about unwanted ticks on your Christmas tree.