The Snow Flea

(or springtails)

Black snow

The insect nicknamed the “snow flea” is not a flea at all, but instead is a species of springtails that may occur in very large numbers on the snow. In some instances they can be so many as to color the snow black.

Although springtails are very common insects and often very abundant, they are seldom observed.  Their small size and that they are often found in concealed situations keeps them out of view for most of us. Springtails occur in leaf mold, damp soil, under bark, in decaying logs and in fungi.  A few are found on water.  Most species are believed to feed on organic debris.

A curiosity at most

The “snow fleas” need not be of concern to homeowners, as they do not cause any damage.  The snow fleas abundance and habit of crawling or “jumping” all over the place, attracts attention, because they are contrasted against the white background of the snow.

This is one of the few insects that occur in the adult stage during the wintertime.  It is a curiosity more than anything else and is of interest to the naturalist as well as the scientist…thanks to the folks at Cornell for their description.