The late onset of spring has brought the iconic fowl to metro lakes, waiting for ice-out up north. Less lovely: the arrival of ticks.
Loons, the Minnesota state bird, can only get food underwater.
While the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis and other area lakes went ice-free over the weekend, the much larger Lake Minnetonka may not be declared clear until this weekend, according to the Hennepin County Sheriff's Water Patrol. Friday would be the latest clearing in more than 30 years. All large lakes to the north remain frozen.
Loons are not under any kind of travel deadline, Naumann said; they'll mate and lay eggs whenever they get to their northern breeding lakes.
Meanwhile, the onset of thawing temperatures and yard work have combined for a sudden reacquaintance with a creature much less endearing than loons: ticks.
University of Minnesota Extension entomologist Jeff Hahn said Monday that his office has already received samples of ticks to determine whether they might be disease-carrying deer ticks.
"It's the season. I suspect people are more than happy to see it versus the cold, snowy weather we've had," Hahn said.
Minnesotans most commonly encounter wood ticks and their much smaller relatives, deer ticks. Of the two, deer ticks are more likely to carry disease. Minnesota saw record numbers of cases of Lyme disease and two other deer tick-borne diseases in 2007, said Melissa Kemperman, an epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health.
Ticks appear to be increasing in numbers across Minnesota. Despite the long, cold recent winter, "I think there are still going to be plenty of ticks out there," Kemperman added.
Bill McAuliffe • 612-673-7646
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