This March 2002 file photo shows a deer tick under a microscope in the entomology lab at the University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. Credit: Victoria Arocho / AP

Alarming new research shows ticks may be able to survive cold winter temperatures in the right conditions.

Experts at the University of Maine looked into the conventional wisdom that freezing temperatures kill the ticks. But researchers said it’s rarely been tested in experiments.

So, they did, and they found ticks can live through the state’s harsh winters with insulation from leaf litter and snowpack.

That means tick populations and associated diseases could expand north as climate change leads to warmer and wetter winters.