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Springtails may be showing up soon

By Chris Williams on February 23, 2016.

498px-Orchesella_cinctaThe Northeast got pummeled by Jonas for sure this past weekend but we  got skunked in NH!  Today is quite spring like outside in the upper 40s so I wouldn’t be surprised to start seeing springtails beginning to appear.  What is a springtail you ask?   Springtails, aka, snow fleas are tiny bluish gray or dark brown insects, that get their name because of an odd tail like appendage called a furcula that they use to propel themselves.  This insect’s small size, dark color, and ability to ‘jump’ may lead one to believe that they have a flea infestation on their hands, but they are in no way related and are completely harmless.  That said, hundreds or thousands of them invading the basement or  living space can be quite a nuisance!

Evolutionary biologists, and taxonomists have argued whether these insects are really insects at all, but regardless of where they fit in the animal kingdom, these soil dwellers are important recyclers of carbon. They feed on decaying leaf litter, fungi, bacteria, etc.  If by some chance I get out on my skis  this weekend, I’ll keep a sharp eye out to see if I can find them jumping around on the snow. Continued mild temperatures are being predicted, and with the groundhog set to make his appearance next week,  springtails out on the snow might be a better sign that milder weather is here for good.  Let’s hope so!

Credit Photos : By MvuijlstOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0

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