When snowfleas appear, the end of Winter is near?

 It’s Monday morning...I’ve never liked Mondays. I just got home from bringing my son to school, the sun was shining, the property looked like a winter wonderland. I noticed that my husband had groomed some trails on the property..hmmm..I could go for a run... As I decided whether or not I felt like going for a run, my dog Niki seems to read my thoughts. Suddenly she starts to get excited, bumps me a few times with her head and does this little turn with her body that could be easily interpreted as a “Come on! Let’s go!” The look in her eyes, when she notices that I’m still uncertain sealed the deal.

Okay, let’s go for a run, I’m doing this for you Dog!                                                                                                                                                                                          

I smile to myself when I see the dog blasting through the snow at full speed. All I see is a cloud of snow in the air, and as the snow settles there’s a dog with snow piled up on her muzzle... I can’t help but notice the chickadees hanging out on the tree branches as I run by, and the blue Jays enjoying the peanuts I left out for them that morning. I see that the deer have been enjoying our trails as well as I step over their prints. The snow is white with sparkles, the sky is blue, and the trails nicely groomed. Alright this is fun now :)

As I look down to make sure I continue to run on steady ground, I see some specks on the snow. This part of the trail has quite a bit of debris, like tiny black specks..Pretty noticeable when the snow is so white and these specks are black...I stop to take a closer look, and now my eyes are playing tricks on me..The specks seem to move..I take a closer look, and I see that it’s not debris at all, there bugs! Tiny little black bugs, with little antenna, jumping all over the snow!!! I had never seen this before!!! So I had to investigate! There are hundreds of them in this section, and I needed to know what they were! As most of us do, I asked the internet. I googled tiny black bugs in the snow and found my answer. Snowfleas!! They are not really fleas, but belong to a group of primitive insects called springtails (Collembola). They are no harm to people or pets. Here are some fascinating facts about these little “bugs” 

  • springtails are not parasites; they feed on decaying organic matter in the soil (such as leaf litter) and, therefore, play an important part in natural decomposition.
  • Snow fleas in particular are able to withstand the bitter temperatures of winter thanks to a “glycine-rich antifreeze protein,” as reported in a study published in Biophysical Journal.
  • The protein in the snow fleas binds to ice crystals as they start to form, preventing the crystals from growing larger.
  • In addition, by isolating this protein, researchers have been able to study the medical potential of its structure. Specifically, Brad Pentelute from the University of Chicago and colleagues suggested the possible applications of this protein in safely preserving organs for human transplantation.
  • Springtails will occasionally invade homes in search of moisture. Because of their small size, they can enter under door thresholds, through screens, cracks and other small openings. They can be found in areas such as the bottoms of sliding glass doors where condensation builds or in damp basements and crawl spaces.
  • They do not do any damage or bite.
  • Usually reducing moisture sources and dampness will help eliminate them.
  • Use a vacuum to reduce numbers.
  • Outside, keep litter, mulch, debris, wood piles etc. away from the foundation 

Fascinating! I learned something new today! Love that! Below are some of the websites I used as reference:  

http://www.esa.org/esablog/research/snow-fleas-helpful-winter-critters-2/ 

http://www.drbug.ca/insects/snow_fleas.php

A blog I read online suggested that when snowfleas appear, the end of Winter is near..Since it's only the beginning of January in Ontario, I seriously doubt that.

 

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