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Extension > Yard and Garden News > Don't worry about snowfleas

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Don't worry about snowfleas

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist


Diane Peterson

Photo 1: These strange black lines are composed of large numbers of snowfleas

A couple of homeowners discovered an odd situation in their lawns during mid to late October. From a distance, they could see long, black lines in the grass. Upon closer inspection, they discovered that the black lines were actually due to many tiny insects. Examining the insects under magnification revealed that they were snowfleas, a type of springtail.

Springtails get their name because of their ability to jump. They feed on decaying organic matter as well as fungi, pollen, and algae. They are very abundant insects but because of their small size and that they are usually found in leaf litter, soil, and other generally hidden places, people do not usually notice them. Until, that is, they occur in large numbers.


Jeff Hahn, Univ. of Minnesota Extension

Photo 2: Snowfleas are most commonly seen on top of snow.

Snowfleas are particularly interesting because they are cold tolerant. They are typically seen during late winter and early spring as the snow starts to melt and they congregate, often in large numbers.  Fortunately, whether you see snowfleas now or on top of snow later, they are harmless to turf and should be ignored. They will eventually go away on their own.

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