Collembola

Eric Bak, MAEAP Technician

During these shorter days of cold and sometimes nasty weather, we tend to get a little restless. We are in the middle of winter and hardly a creature is stirring, not even an insect. So, when the sun does come out and shine, it is nice to take advantage and take a walk in the woods. A little more is moving in the forest than we sometimes notice. If you can find a nice place to get some woodsy fresh air, make sure you take the time to look around and see what else is moving. If you are lucky enough, you may be able to witness a little-known winter insect emergence.

Collembola (or snow fleas) on the snow.

Every so often, Collembola can be seen on the snow. Collembola are commonly known as springtails in the summer and snow fleas in the winter. Collembola are a very small insect usually only 1-2mm in length and look like pepper on top of the snow. They are called snow fleas because they resemble a true flea and jump, however they do not bite. On warm sunny winter days, they emerge looking for food sources. They live in the soil and leaf litter and eat fungi, plant material, algae, and bacteria. So, if you should happen to see these tiny bugs this winter, it is a good indication that the ecosystem you are walking through is healthy and fertile.

Collembola