Deer ticks are active throughout the metro

Minnesotans are being urged to take extra precautions after ticks were spotted in the Twin Cities.

Officials with the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District said the first deer tick of the year was found on Monday in Rosemount.

"They're out. The deer ticks have been active throughout the metro," said Alex Carlson, the public affairs manager for the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District.

So why are ticks out now? Blame Mother Nature and her warm February. Carlson encouraged Minnesotans to stay alert because about a third of adult deer ticks are carrying Lyme disease. 

"It's weird because you have to start taking those precautions you would normally take in May right now in February, so putting that flea and tick preventative on your dog and just making sure if you're out in the woods or in anywhere there's long grasses to check yourself and your pets and your kids," Carlson said.

Normally, during this time of year, there wouldn’t be quite as many Minnesotans enjoying dog parks with their pets.

"Between November and March, we don't even set foot here. But we have been here three times in the past week," said Maddie Eldred, who was enjoying the dog park Wednesday with her spunky dog, Elmer.

With his white fur, it's easy to spot ticks on little Elmer, and last summer, he had his fair share of them. Eldred is a bit disheartened to hear that although it’s only February, ticks have already been spotted in the area.

"Maybe I should go buy Frontline," Eldred said. "We do a lot of hikes. We were just at Fort Snelling the other day, and it was warm enough to where there's critters out that you wouldn't normally see."

Ticks tend to come out when temperatures are consistently staying above freezing, so more cold weather or snow could keep them away.

The downside of this mild winter is it's not killing off the species Minnesotans normally don't want around, and that's spelling trouble for the spring.

"If it stays mild like this, there could be more ticks come May and June," Carlson said.

Anyone who finds a tick should remove it with a tweezers and destroy it, so it can’t impact someone else.