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Snow Fleas, Springtails in the Snow

Snow Fleas

From a distance, snow fleas look like pepper or ashes on the snow. Despite the name, a snow flea actually isn’t a flea at all. This small 1/16th inch bug is actually a member of the Collembola family (containing different springtails), which is able to live under the snow. The nickname is derived from the similarities that springtails and fleas share. Like fleas, springtails are tiny and move suddenly by jumping. Unlike fleas, springtails won’t bite you or your pets.

Why am I Seeing Snow Fleas on the Snow?

Springtails typically live in moist soil or other areas with high moisture because they can lose water fast. They feed on decaying vegetation, leaf litter, and soil. When you see them on the snow, it is typically a warmer day and you will find them near trees where snow has melted. Specific proteins in their body act as an “antifreeze” allowing the springtail to tolerate temperatures that most bugs could not. 

Are Springtails a Pest?

This type of springtail can become a pest if they forage for food indoors, but it is not all that common. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, other types of springtails are more likely to become a pest issue in summer months when temperatures are especially warm. 

How to Control Springtails

The best way to control springtails if you see them in your home or business is to exclude them by sealing their entryways. Additionally, make the area they are attracted to less suitable by keeping it dry. The most common way of accomplishing this is by using a dehumidifier to make areas of high moisture drier. If problems persist, an Adam’s Pest Control technician can help you take care of the problem.

Further Reading, Sources

Picture From UW Madison Department of Entomology

Pest World’s Springtail (Snow Flea) Information

University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Snow Fleas

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