Snow Fleas

A week or so ago when we had our January thaw there were inquiries about little black insects on the top of the snow.

These little critters are commonly referred to as “snow fleas”. They are not really fleas but belong to a primitive group of insects commonly called spring tails.

These insects do not possess wings. They get around by cocking and releasing a spring-like mechanism at the tail end of their body and by crawling.

Adult snow fleas are active from November to March. They are most apparent on warm days when the snow pack starts to thaw in late winter. Their black color allows them to absorb heat from the sun. On sunny days they congregate in great numbers on the surface of the snow to feed on microscopic algae, bacteria, and fungi and to complete mating. As the trees absorb heat and the snow melts away from the base of the trees, the snow fleas move down this pathway to the leaf litter and deposit their eggs.

The young hatch in the leaf litter later in the spring. They are less than a millimeter long and pinkish in color. They mature throughout the summer and become sexually active adults the following fall, usually in November.

SNOW FLEAS DO NO HARM. They are a part of the natural processes that take place in the forests. Snow fleas are part of that complex of organisms that break down leaf and other organic matter on the forest floor. They are soil builders. They are not harmful to people or pets and they won’t get in the house and contaminate foodstuff.


Last week in The Argus the article on the county board proceedings announced that I will be working part time for Waushara County as the Agriculture Agent. Plans are that I will in the office from 8-Noon Wednesday and Friday mornings. Plans are to extend my time to include Monday mornings when we into more spring like weather. I may be contacted by calling the UW-Extension office or by email at