When people listen to the winter message on my answering machine and hear me say that I am out chasing snow fleas, they are skeptical often suspecting that I am suffering from cabin fever. There is in fact an insect called a snow flea. It is not a flea at all but belongs to a very primitive group called springtails. The 2 pictures above were taken at one of our customers properties in February of 2004.
Snow fleas are so named, not because they bite, but because they have an apparatus called a furcula which allows them to jump or ‘spring’ through the air. These insects are able to live underneath and on top of the snow. In the late winter and early spring, you will sometimes find them in tremendous numbers on the surface of the snow or around the edges of ponds and puddles. They feed on decaying vegetation, fungi, pollen, algae, lichens and other similar materials.
Springtails are very small ranging from 1-3mm in length. They are often dark in colour but can range from pinks to greens. Some experts believe that these are the most abundant of all insects on earth with forest floor litter able to hold up to 50,000 per cubic foot. They are found throughout the world including the Arctic and high Himalayas. Specimens that have been found trapped in amber from 45 million years ago are similar to those still present today.
Springtails will occasionally invade homes in search of moisture. Because of their small size, they can enter under door thresholds, through screens, cracks and other small openings. They can be found in areas such as the bottoms of sliding glass doors where condensation builds or in damp basements and crawl spaces. They do not do any damage or bite. Usually reducing moisture sources and dampness will help eliminate them. Use a vacuum to reduce numbers. Outside, keep litter, mulch, debris, wood piles etc. away from the foundation.