Deep snow cover spared many ticks from the worst of Minnesota's bitter winter - so much so that tick numbers were high at all state monitoring sites this spring.
Ticks are cold-blooded, and as long as they have protection from frigid air temperatures, they can survive, said Dave Neitzel, and epidemiologist for the Minnesota Department of Health.
"If we had the cold without the snow, it would have been hard on the ticks," Neitzel said. "But unfortunately all that snow that we had just made a nice little blanket of insulation on top of the ticks."
The high numbers of ticks pose health risks. In 2013, 1,431 cases of Lyme disease were reported to the Health Department -- a state record. Cases of other tick diseases were also high last year.
To guard against disease, people should use repellent if they spend time in tick habitats. Blacklegged ticks, which can carry several types of diseases, are typically found in wooded or brushy areas.
Neitzel said people are at the greatest risk of contracting tick diseases from mid-May through mid-July when hard-to-detect, immature ticks are most active.
"A lot of people think, boy this winter was so tough it had to have been tough on the ticks and really it was not," he said. "We're just encouraging people to take precautions against the ticks."