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Have you seen snow fleas?

1 min read / March 15, 2020

A springtime siting of springtails

We were excited to capture these tiny creatures in this short video.
A great place to look for them is in a snowy patch near the base of a tree.

The tail of the springy snowflea...

These surprising insects spend much of their time in the upper layers of the soil , feeding on bacteria, fungi, pollen, and organic material. They have a natural antifreeze, so they can be active all winter – even in sub-zero temperatures.

When you see them on top of the snow, they are mostly feeding on pollen and algal cells that have settled out of the air. If you see snow fleas hopping around, it’s because they have a tail coiled up under their bodies and when it’s released the spring-like tail catapults them into the air, up to 300 body-lengths away — a very useful trick for escaping predators.

Snow fleas are often found in abundance—more than 100,000 of them can live in a square meter of soil. A snow flea is not actually a flea, but they belong to a large worldwide group of insects knows as springtails.

There are thousands of springtail species around the world. Some are found in dark caves, others in sunny meadows, some on Antarctic ice and others in warm lava on a Pacific Island. Springtails have been around a long time—fossils indicate they have been here over 400 million years.

 

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