Many would assume that one of the perks of living in a region that experiences cold winters is that you experience a decreased bug presence. Think again.
While many buzzing, biting, flying, and swarming bugs are overwintering, some bugs thrive in colder temperatures. More than that, there are even some that love the snow!
Snow bugs - also known as snow fleas or springtails - don't shy away from cold and snowy climates. Despite their nickname, snow bugs are not fleas; experts also say they aren't pure insects. Snow bugs are classified within the arthropod family, but researchers have found that they're more closely related to crustaceans.
Snow bugs have earned the nickname snow fleas not only because they look similar to fleas but also because of their ability to leap great lengths. Unlike fleas, they don't use their feet to jump but instead use their tail (furcula) to launch them into the air, hence their other nickname: springtails.
Snow bugs live in leaf litter, so you are most likely to see them around the trunk of your tree. They go almost unnoticed in the warmer months because they are so small (about 2 mm) and dark.
When it snows, they can look like little pepper flakes sprinkled on top of the snow. The only reason you might notice them is because they tend to cluster together. Snow bugs can withstand the freezing temperatures of snow because they produce antifreeze proteins.
Despite looking similar to other biting insects, snow bugs don't bite. They help to break down organic material, making them essential gardening partners.