Look Close, They’re Moving!

Springtails (snow fleas) on snow.

They are Springtails!

These little animals are very common and present year round. There can be as many 300 million per acre! It is only against a white backdrop of snow we appreciate just how common. Often referred to as snow fleas, they are not fleas at all, but rather springtails (scientific name is collembola). On warm winter days and in places the snow is relatively thin they move from the leaves below to the surface. Amazingly, they have a type of “anti-freeze” in their system allowing them to withstand cold temperatures. They are appropriately named springtails for two “tails”, spring loaded against their body. While walking is an option, should they want to move faster, they release the “tails” and launch themselves 50 to 100 times their body length. Imagine if we could do that! Landings aren’t graceful, often landing on their head or back. Maybe we should be glad we can’t launch.