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jbmaine

The snow flea's are out!

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We had a couple of inches of snow today, and when I was out cleaning up I saw snow flea's. My Grandmother always told me when you see snow flea's it means Spring is finally coming. Thank goodness, it's been a long winter.

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??? Snow flea's.

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1 hour ago, Dwight Hottle said:

??? Snow flea's.

 

Springtails... one of the oldest insects (?) on the planet.  I was outside today in the woods for a bit today and on my return trip, my footprints in the snow were peppered with them.

 

Tight lines,

Bob

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We see them all the time up here, all winter long too. Even when it’s pretty cold out they’re still out there, hopping all over like pepper flakes gone mad. 

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30 minutes ago, Way north bass guy said:

We see them all the time up here, all winter long too. Even when it’s pretty cold out they’re still out there, hopping all over like pepper flakes gone mad. 

I don't usually see them in the middle of winter ( not that there not there ). I usually notice them around the yard during a spring thaw and into the warmer weather.

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30 minutes ago, Way north bass guy said:

We see them all the time up here, all winter long too. Even when it’s pretty cold out they’re still out there, hopping all over like pepper flakes gone mad. 

I never thought of them as a sign of Spring because I see them through the winter here, too.  Sometimes, it's amazing how thick they get.  They always seem to like to congregate in your footprints in the snow.  I've seen them so thick in my footprints before that it looked like someone spilled pepper into them.

 

It's surprising how many folks haven't seen them, or think they're a joke or myth.  Anyone who does some winter hunting or hiking is usually familiar with them.

 

Tight lines,

Bob

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I remember seeing them when I would be out hunting. Never knew they were snow fleas. Like others I've seen them in footprints in the snow and they can look like pepper thrown on the ground. Also I have seen them in the dead of winter. 

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I've only seen them once.  Every depression in the snow was full of them.  I saw them from in the house, or rather, I saw the dark depressions and went outside to see what made the depressions dark.  Up close, I could see the little critters flitting around.  The ones I saw were a gray color.

 

Image result for snow fleas

 

Image result for snow fleas

 

Snow fleas: helpful winter critters

Posted By Katie Kline on Jan 28, 2011 | 4 comments

 

snowfleas1.jpgAs the Northeast of the United States was hammered by thundersnow this week, students, parents and perhaps those working from home had the opportunity to indulge in outdoor winter activities. For many, being in the snow again is losing its luster. As an Associated Press article noted, “The Northeast has already been pummeled by winter not even halfway into the season. The airport serving Hartford, Conn., got a foot of snow, bringing the total for the month so far to 54.9 inches and breaking the all-time monthly record of 45.3 inches, set in December 1945.”

However, those who are venturing outside might discover that snow forts and shovels are not the only things littering the fresh snow. At close examination, perhaps in melting snow around the base of a tree, tiny black flecks might be found sprinkled in the snow. They probably look like bits of dirt at first glance, but they are actually tiny soil animals known as snow fleas. Officially, they are called springtails and are not actually fleas (or even technically insects).

On any given summer day, hundreds of thousands of springtails can populate one cubic meter of top soil; at 1-2 mm, they largely go unnoticed by people. In the winter, however, two species of dark blue springtails— Hypogastrura harveyi and Hypogastrura nivicol—can be easily spotted against the white backdrop of snow. These hexapods may have acquired the nickname of snow fleas due to their ability to jump great distances, a feat fleas boast as well. Whereas fleas use enlarged hind legs, springtails have a tail-like appendage called a furcula that unfolds to launch the hexapods great distances.

Snow_Flea_close_up_crop.jpgBut unlike fleas, 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.

LIN, F., GRAHAM, L., CAMPBELL, R., & DAVIES, P. (2007). Structural Modeling of Snow Flea Antifreeze Protein Biophysical Journal, 92 (5), 1717-1723 DOI: 10.1529/biophysj.106.093435

Photo Credit (distance snow fleas): Jean-Sébastien Bouchard

Photo Credit (snow flea close-up): Daniel Thompkins

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Snowfleas seem to be interesting little animals.

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