Willow trying to out run Gemma and the Snow Fleas.
When I was a youngster my father and I used to do a lot of x-country skiing. On one of our trips, I was probably no more than 10 years old, we stopped for lunch and noticed tiny bugs hopping about in the snow. Very unusual for the middle of winter, to say the least.
When we arrived home my father told my mother about our strange encounter with ‘snow fleas’. My mother laughed thinking it was just another one of his made up stories designed to get a laugh.
Kelsie, Tom and Cooper were out this weekend and we spent a couple afternoons playing in the snow behind Swansea. Today, Tom said, ‘what are all these little bugs’.
Each black speck is a Springtail. Someday I am going to get a macro lens.
Sure enough it was a hatch of ‘snow fleas’. They were everywhere. Some tiny and some really tiny. They hopped about.
Kelsie got concerned for her dog Gemma when I called them fleas. I assured her they are not really fleas but ‘springtails’. They are often called fleas because they jump like fleas, but are absolutely harmless to humans and pets.
They have a protein that acts as an antifreeze. Many bugs have the same protein including the Pine Beetle. A prolonged deep freeze will kill them. In the case of the Pine Beetle, due to global warming, we have not experienced a really cold winter for many years, allowing the beetle to survive further north with devastating effect on the timber.
Conditions have to be right to trigger a hatch of springtails. We have had some warm weather, just above freezing, the snow is deep and the nights are cold, not so unusual from any other year. It is the kind of encounter in the mountains that can be missed by an hour or two on either side of the hatch.
It was good to see them. I was glad Tom was paying attention. Lisa and I were watching Cooper slide down the trail and there isn’t much room in our eyes for anything else when he is around.
Now, after this post, if you still don’t believe in small bugs jumping around in the middle of winter on top of six feet of snow, then I won’t begin to tell you about the even more illusive,’ice worm’!