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Warm weather = early tick season

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Early spring. Early tick season.

Yes, wood ticks and deer ticks have been out for quite some time already.

"It is dependent on temperature and moisture," Tamarac Wildlife Refuge Manager Neil Powers said. "Basically at about 40 degrees, either way, in the spring of the year or the fall of the year, that's kind of the clicking point."

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So with warm temperatures in early March, the ticks have been out in full force for weeks.

Becker County Parks and Recreation Manager Marty Wiley said his crew has seen deer ticks out for at least three weeks and now the start of wood ticks as well.

"Usually as soon as the snow is gone or getting the warm weather, you start getting ticks in all the grassy areas," he said. "Anywhere there's taller grass, that's where you're going to run into them first."

And like the soon-to-be-coming other pests, mosquitoes, ticks like moisture for breeding and producing more ticks. Powers said just based on casual observation, this year's tick population will likely be lower due to the drier-than-average winter and spring.

"Our staff is still a little caught off guard. We should still have some snow on the ground," Powers said with a laugh, so it's hard to say if the population is up or down for sure.

"It's hard because we're comparing two very different times of the year -- April into May versus March into April."

With staff members getting ready for the spring and summer season and venturing outside more regularly, Powers said he's been hearing more and more reports of ticks.

"They start a little bit here, a little bit there," Wiley said. "Probably the only thing is it's earlier in the year and that just goes with the spring green-up. Everything came early so the ticks came early, too."

Powers said there are three main safety tips for avoiding ticks: Tuck your pant legs into your socks, use bug spray or repellent, and wear light colored clothing.

"I wear light tan pants and those little black wood ticks, no matter how small they are, I can see them immediately."

Don't forget to check children on a daily basis and get some kind of tick prevention for animals as well.

"While we've got a lot of scenic beauty," Powers said of the refuge, "you don't want to carry some of it home with you in the form of a wood tick."

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