Ticks make an early appearance in Minnesota after mild winter

Some ticks are emerging from dormancy early thanks to a mild winter, officials in Minnesota said Wednesday.

The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District in St. Paul said it identified its first deer tick of the 2024 season on Wednesday, several weeks earlier than their usual emergence around March or April.

Alex Carlson, with the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District in Minneapolis, told CBS it’s the time of year to start paying more attention to ticks.

“Tick-borne diseases are on the rise throughout the country and here in Minnesota,” Carlson said. “We’re seeing an increase in Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases out there, so it’s very important that people are aware, tick aware.”

The U.S. government tracks the prevalence of Lyme disease as an indicator of climate change. Studies have shown the warming climate has contributed to an expansion in the range of ticks that carry Lyme disease, and may also cause ticks to stay in contact with humans and animals longer during each year when temperatures are warm enough.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, climate change has contributed to Lyme case counts increasing, and to the disease showing up in more places.