An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Piles of Snow Fleas

We tend to associate snow fleas, a type of springtail, with winter, as that is when we can easily see their tiny black bodies against the white snow.   However, these insects don’t magically appear when it snows – they are in the leaf litter and soil all year round.  Snow fleas are considered to be one of the most numerous land animals on earth, with several hundred thousand inhabiting a cubic yard. Even so, it was with amazement that I found several piles of snow fleas at the base of my garage door this morning – it’s the wrong time of year, and most of the individual snow fleas were not scattered apart from each other.  Several solid black patches of snow fleas, one patch measuring roughly 6” by 2 ½ ”, piled 1/8” high, had appeared overnight.  Something about the warm, humid air this morning may have caused them to leave the safety of the forest floor and for some unknown reason gather in piles on the cement.  Once the garage door was raised, the piles disappeared within five minutes, as each tiny snow flea catapulted itself several inches away and disappeared into fallen leaves.

7 responses

  1. Sue Klem

    Mary — Your blogs are terrific! I recommend them to my friends all the time. The detail and interesting facts that I’ve never seen anywhere else – absolutely wonderful!
    Your snow flea blog brings to mind a question. If you know the answer, maybe you can work it into a blog at some time in the future. No need to answer me individually. Twice I have had the experience while out in my small sail boat on a bay in Gloucester MA where the wind is blowing from one direction, then it changes abruptly and blows from nearly the opposite direction. I begin to feel these little things (like grains of sand) pelting me. I look down on my white deck and there are hundreds of tiny dead insects, all the same kind. Probably no see-ums. Wish I had a picture. Somehow they seem to have been pummeled to death by colliding wind currents. Is there a better or more detailed explanation? Thanks. Sue

    October 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    • Sue, you’ve described a phenomenon I’ve never seen or heard of. Will let you know if I learn any more about it — fascinating! Mary

      October 27, 2012 at 4:37 pm

  2. Susan Holland

    wow! That’s amazing. I never thought about where the snow fleas were when there was no snow….

    October 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm

  3. Hi Mary…I have seen them so many times in winter, and growing up I always wonder how could these tiny things be alive and jumping around in snow : )…as I have learned since then what a amazing insect they are !!
    What a gathering you found at your garage door .. it is a gorgeous day and week it has been ….perhaps the fleas are looking for shelter from the pending storm!! : ))
    Thanks for sharing this with us !!!

    October 27, 2012 at 5:06 pm

  4. viola

    How amazing. Good thing you were the one to find these in your garage; the rest of us would have been mystified, even horrified. Strange how quickly they disappeared. Nature is nifty!

    October 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm

  5. Sandy Chivers

    Mary, what can you tell me about deer kegs??? Was on a walk today and this is the first I’ve ever head of them.

    October 27, 2012 at 10:33 pm

  6. Kathy Schillemat

    My friend and I tried eating springtails that we found thickly clustered on the surface of the water of a stream early last spring. Don’t taste like much and definitely not filling. Thanks for a wonderful account.

    October 28, 2012 at 1:21 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s