Snow Fleas

Posted on in Recent Sightings by Hawk Mountain

Snow Fleas Gathered On Melting Snow

Our trails were covered in snow this week, drawing to the surface these tiny creatures that inhabit the leaf litter year-round. Nicknamed Snow Fleas (Hypogastrura nivicola) or springtails because of their jumping abilities, they are often an indicator of healthy soil and not a biting pest like their name suggests. Snow fleas aren’t insects at all—in fact, they’re more closely related to crabs than fleas! 

In the wintertime, they appear peppered on the snow’s surface in their search for organic matter to feed on. Snow fleas have a much higher tolerance to cold temperatures, as compared to insects of the region, thanks to an anti-freeze protein in their bodies that's rich in glycine and prevents the formation of ice crystals.

Photo by Laura Berry.