Northern New England Touring Kayaker
Snow Fleas; Real or Myth?
HomeTrip ReportsPlaces to PaadlePhoto GalleriesTipsLinksArchiveEnvironmentalCamp'n-SiteTips

  I know you are going to ask what do snow fleas have to do with kayaking? The answer is nothing at all.. With much pressure from some co-workers in West Lebanon New Hampshire, I have decided to write a little bit about these harmless critters of the spring. Their appearance on the surface of the snow is a sign that spring can not be too far away. There are very few folks out there that have even know about these little creatures, including even a few well seasoned outdoor enthusiast.. These little creatures are not a myth! The pictures that are seen on this page were taken with a Kodak DX4530 point and shoot digital camera right outside my back door in Buxton, Maine.

Snow Fleas There is very little known about these little buggers because they are not studied to any extent. Even so, they are real. and is not very hard to locate these mythical little creatures. They can be found by the billions in and along wooded areas. Their numbers can be so great the snow will appear to have been sprinkled with pepper or may just have the appearance of dirt that was blown there from some unknown source..  The little creatures that have become known as snow fleas are actually critters  called "Spring Tails", or as they are known to the scientific world, Hypogastrura Nivicola. They will start to appear on the snows surface when the winters cold and snow starts to give way to the springs warm sun.

  Snow fleas are only about 1/16th of an inch long, but they do play an important part in nature. They are decomposers, meaning they help break down decaying plant material which in turn, enriches the soil. There are about 314 different known species that can be found in the soil, leaf litter, mosses and fungi right here in North America. Springtails are known to eat decaying leaves and plants, bacteria, fungi, algae, pollen, roundworms, rotifers, and sap. They don't seem to have many predators, but the few that do have them on their lunch menu include beetles, ants, mites and centipedes. Although their nickname brings on thoughts of bites and itching, they are totally harmless to humans and their pets. So Erika, it is safe to let your pets go out into the yard to play without fear of them picking up any of these little critters and Brent, you can not go to the pet store and buy a  snow flea collar for your dog! Below you will find a few links to other sites that will give you more insight about these little and harmless creatures.

Snow Fleas  University of Minnesota

  Wisconsin Natural Resources

  Cornell Cooperative Extension

  Fairfax Public Schools

  Wikipedia

  NH Public Radio

  Hungry Horse News

  The Weather Notebook