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If you’re going outside to shovel after that blizzard, you may be lifting more than just that fresh powdery snow. Think that snow on your walkway is just dirty? Think again.
Enter snow fleas. However, don’t get too concerned when you hear the name ‘snow fleas’. Though their nickname has ‘flea’ in it, there’s no need to worry about your kids playing in a winter storm with a bunch of fleas.
So, if there’s no need to worry, what are these insects, and what is their purpose? Are they harmful to humans? We’ll answer all your questions below.
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Snow fleas, also called springtails, are not actually fleas. These tiny specs in the snow are microscopic insects and measure only about 1/16th of an inch. They are black in color and get their name ‘snow fleas’ because they travel by jumping as they don’t have wings.
Though they may look like pieces of dirt at a first glance, they are actually tiny soil animals. They feed on decaying organic matter, like leaf litter and algae. This makes them an important part of natural decomposition as they recycle nutrients, keeping our soil healthy.
Snow fleas are present throughout the year, but most of the time they go unnoticed as they are resting on dark soil. In the winter, they become more noticeable against the fresh white snow. These tiny insects can survive in freezing cold temperatures because they produce a natural antifreeze protein that prevents their body from freezing.
Snow fleas can be found throughout the Northeast. These insects hang out in large quantities and often look like dirt or pepper marks on snow. They are common in colder states and enjoy many habitats, including forests and fields, and even urban areas. They are most noticeable in snowy and icy environments and most active on warm, sunny days when the snow is melting.
Though snow fleas are beneficial to the environment, they can become a nuisance if they get into your home. They are attracted to light, so if there are any tiny openings leading into your home, these microscopic pests can get indoors. Around your home, snow fleas can be found in moist areas, like your basement, bathrooms, and kitchens, and around leaky pipes and floor drains.
However, it is important to note that it is rare for these insects to get into your home, and if they do, they won’t cause any sort of structural damage.
As stated earlier, snow fleas are not actually fleas. They just get their nickname ‘snow flea’ for their ability to jump. And, unlike actual fleas, they do not bite. They are not harmful to humans, pets, or wildlife, and will be only just a nuisance if you find them inside your home or when you are shoveling your driveway.
These insects need moisture to survive. In order to get rid of them, you’ll need to figure out the source of water that is attracting them and stop the leak. Once found, using a dehumidifier will help to dry out the area.
If you only have a few snow fleas in your home, you can quickly vacuum them up. A severe infestation would require a call to Ehrlich. And, as always, we’re here to help. Whether you have a general pest control question or need service, contact us or send us a message on Facebook.
Oh, and one final PSA: Though you shouldn’t eat snow to begin with, “don’t eat the black snow” is the new “don’t eat the yellow snow.” But obviously, you still shouldn’t eat yellow snow.