Thursday, February 25, 2010

Trillions of snow fleas and a few good squirrels

A few days ago while exploring the trails of Island Lake State Recreation Area in Brighton I had a wildlife encounter that dwarfed the epic wildebeest migrations of East Africa----well, on a much smaller scale.
Snow fleas were on the move, millions, perhaps trillions of these tiny speck-like creatures were trailside, leaping like minature Olympians in search of decaying organic matter. Snow fleas are not true fleas, these  winter active insects are actually springtails, a common, seldomly noted insect. But when they gather to feed and breed and are contrasted against the snow, it is a sight to behold.   And with the help of a few good squirrels their quest for food in a world of  late winter white became easier.  Squirrels were digging through the snow to buried nuts and in the process exposed decaying leaves. And for the snow fleas--that is darn good eating. The springtails would "spring" and leap into the hole and enter the world of fine dining. Nature is always full of surprise and wonder. We just have to look!


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