PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Researchers say Maine's long, harsh winter appears to have little impact on the kind of ticks that carry Lyme disease.

Maine Medical Center Research Institute field biologist Charles Lubelczyk says deer ticks have emerged from a hibernation-like state amid recent warming temperatures. The ticks, which can also carry other diseases, insulate themselves under blankets of snow and leaves during the cold.

The Portland Press Herald reports the research institute has partnered with the state of Connecticut to conduct field studies for the past three winters. Preliminary findings suggest ticks fare best under snow and leaves, and that snow is actually beneficial to them in many ways. Lubelczyk says when snow melts the moisture in the soil helps keep the ticks healthy.

Lyme disease has risen in Maine in recent years.

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