Something to make your skin crawl

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Something on the ice got the attention of a SaultOnline.com viewer Thursday morning. What appeared to be some sort of stain on the ice, was much much more.

Approaching the “stains” the viewer noticed it was moving, and also noticed a lot more patches of red.  Upon closer look, it was millions upon millions of “snow fleas”.

snow fleaWhat the heck is a snow flea?  These harmless “fleas” are valuable components of woodland ecosystems. In reality, they are not even fleas, but insects called Springtails.

Springtails get their name because they have two long things that look like tails sticking from their abdomen (back body section). The “tails” can fold under the body and are held by two hooks under the body. When the springtail releases the hooks, the insect goes flying in the air.

snow fleaSnow Fleas are very small, about 1/16 inch long. They are dark blue, have short antennae, and have two eye clusters (with 16 eyes in each).

During very cold Winter days, Snow Fleas are not very active. But if it warms up, Snow Fleas will become active and look for food. They may even crawl out onto the surface of snow. This is how Snow Fleas get their name. People notice large amounts of them, like black dust, around the base of a tree. They are usually there when there isn’t snow too, as long as the temperature is warm enough; you just see them better on a white background.

snow fleaPredators of Snow Fleas, and other springtails, include: beetles, ants, mites, centipedes, and other small insect-eaters.

Are you all itchy yet? take a look at the video.

 

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