Is there any danger of Christmas Fleas in the branches of your tree?

Dogs in front of Christmas Tree

Could pets bring in pests to your Christmas Tree? - Credit: Bob Martin

Warnings that pet owners could bring more than festive spirit into their homes when they set up their real Christmas tree have been dismissed by a popular Ipswich garden centre.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has warned that they get reports every year of potentially-dangerous ticks being found in Christmas trees - and that these can live on family pets alongside fleas that can also hide in trees which are brought into warm homes.

Tick on a leaf

Could a tick end up lurking in your Christmas Tree? - Credit: Bob Martin

This has prompted petcare company Bob Martin to urge pet owners to ensure their pets are protected against fleas and ticks before bringing in a tree.

However at one of the most popular places to buy real Christmas trees in Ipswich, no one had heard of any problems with pets bringing in fleas or ticks to set up home in them.

Victoria Nurseries in Kettlebaston Way has been selling Christmas Trees since 1986, and is busy selling hundreds more this year in what is expected to be its last festive season.

Ian May with Christmas trees

Ian May has sold thousands of Christmas Trees from Victoria Nurseries - but has never heard of problems with ticks or fleas. - Credit: Clifford Hicks

Proprietor Ian May said he had never heard anything about fleas or ticks setting up home in Christmas trees  - neither had anyone else at the garden centre.

He said: "That's a new one to me - I don't think it will put people off. We're very busy with selling trees now!"

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However research by petcare company Bob Martin suggests buying a real tree could in fact see us welcome up to 25,000 bugs into our homes. 

It says that the vast majority of creepy crawlies found in the branches are completely harmless to humans, such as aphids, spiders and moths but it advises those with a real tree to check it twice for ticks and fleas.

Usually, ticks hibernate over winter, however our centrally heated homes have created a cosy Christmas haven for ticks to re-emerge from their dormant state and latch onto an unsuspecting cat or dog relaxing under the branches.

Fleas can be an even bigger problem for our homes over the festive period, with Bob Martin warning a series of mild winters in recent years has swelled the population, meaning infestations are increasingly common.

Julie Butcher, Head of Marketing at Bob Martin,  said: “Although a lovely Norwegian spruce tree is the epitome of a traditional family Christmas, there’s every chance the tree could be harbouring ticks and other unwanted visitors over the festive period, which could come into contact with you and your pets. 

"The optimal temperature for ticks and fleas is between 21°C and 29°C, which also happens to be the optimum temperature for our cosy homes, too - so it's important to make sure you're treating your pet and your home over the winter months to avoid parasite infestations."

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