By Tracy Perlman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s not exactly the sign of spring that most of us are looking for. With our rising temperatures, tick sightings have been on the rise.

Once temperatures rise into the 40s, they go on the move looking for their next meal.

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“The adult ticks have been out for a couple of weeks,” said Elizabeth Schiffman, an epidemiologist at the Minnesota Department of Health. “The peak risk will be in the next week or so.”

More snow in the winter means more ticks in the spring. Despite seeing more of them, state epidemiologists say there’s no indication Lyme Disease will be worse this year.

Ticks live in wooded, brushy areas and are most commonly found in east-central Minnesota, between Brainerd and Hinckley. But they’re moving south along the Mississippi River Valley.

Schiffman said knowing where to find them will help you stay safe.

“Pay attention to symptoms,” he said. “If you start to get a rash or out in the woods, then it’s probably a good idea to go to your doctor.”

Just because we’re seeing more of them, doesn’t mean we’re at increased risk for getting sick.

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“We find ticks every day,” said Maralis Brand, a teacher at the Dodge Nature Center. “We find them on us, we find them on the kids.”

Playing outside is part of the curriculum at the West St. Paul preschool. Just a few steps into their hike, preschoolers caught a tick trying to hitch a ride.

“They were interested in looking at it, and a little boy brought a slug up,” Brand said. “It’s a tick, it’s a slug — it’s sort of no different.”

Since the kids are taught insects are something we live around, they don’t freak out if one accidentally comes home with them.

Most ticks are no big deal. After all, they’re an unavoidable part of summer.

So, what can we do to stay safe?

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Experts recommend tucking your pants into your socks when out on a walk. Stay on trails and avoid brushy, grassy areas. After being outside, check for ticks and the infamous bulls-eye rash. And wear repellent with DEET. Permetherin is another good option. It will keep working even after a few washes.