Ticks in the forest, mice in trees. Read this before you put a tree in the car!
Ticks are active year round in temperate California. After you return home from cutting down a tree, or taking a hike, be sure to check yourself, children, and pets for ticks. Adult Blacklegged ticks (aka deer ticks) that transmit Lyme disease start to become abundant early in October, and they will remain active through the winter as long as the temperatures are above freezing.
Also, before you take that tree home, look though the branches for nests of dried grasses. What you find, may not be an old bird nest, but an active mouse nest. Any mice will have scampered up the tree when you start your investigation, leaving the nest empty. Show the nest to the tree ranch staff to assist in identification. If it is a mouse nest, remove it and then leave the tree undisturbed for a while to give any hiding mice a chance to escape before you load the tree to take it home.
How do we know about mouse stowaways? Because it happened to a customer. She didn’t realize the significance of the nest of dried grass in the Douglas fir. The tree was home, set up, and decorated before she saw the mouse peeking out of the branches! And then she said some words that put her on Santa’s naughty list.