Snow fleas

An early appearance of snow fleas.

When I was out skiing last week, on a sunny day in Hanover, I came across some bootprints in the snow … with little black specks hopping around inside. Snow fleas!

Snow fleas between my skis. Hanover.

This sighting was unusual, I thought, because I’ve never seen snow fleas so early in the season. They usually appear in March or April, when the air warms above the deep snowpack. This day it was not that warm – hovering around freezing – and there were only a few snow fleas. (Often they are so plentiful the snow is nearly covered!)

Snow fleas are tiny.

The thing is, they’re not even fleas, or even insects! They are springtails, and have a fascinating ability to live in freezing conditions. Coincidentally, a local naturalist came across snow fleas last week, too, and posted a short video.

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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