Until recent years, we could count on the cold temperatures in the winter to wipe out a majority of the tick population but that has changed. 

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If you're headed out to wooded areas, or places with thick leaf cover, or have animals that are frequently outside, the cooler temperatures may not be enough to protect you from ticks this year.

Researchers are finding that deer ticks are now withstanding the cold and snow that usually blankets New England in the winter. In past years, the tick population would significantly decline during the winter months - making it less likely you could contract a tick-borne illness. However, ticks are now essentially using leaves, debris, and snow as a cover and hibernate until the temperatures climb back above freezing. Which means they are still alive and multiplying in those piles of leaves all year long.

And with warmer temperatures lingering in many spots on the state, the ticks don't have to seek cover from the cold and are out in force just as they are in the spring and summer. In addition to the weather, the rampant deer population means ticks have plenty of hosts.

Experts recommend that even if you haven't done so in past winters, be sure to continue using tick repellent on your pets and on yourself if you're spending time outdoors. Do the standard tick checks when you get home and wear light-colored clothing so you can spot any creepy crawlies.