Winter Bugs

When people ask when the best time to avoid bugs in the Boundary Waters I always want to say, "Winter."  But because I know they mean what time during the summer months is best I avoid the sarcastic comment.  Although one would guess there are no bugs in the winter time there are a few.  While cross-country skiing or snowshoeing on a sunny or warm winter day you may see tiny black specks on top of the snow.  These specks will surprise you by jumping along the surface of the snow.  The specks are called Snow Fleas by the locals but are really named Springtails because of their ability to spring off of the snow.  When it is very cold outside the springtails remain almost dormant underneath the snow, but when it warms up they hustle to the surface of the snow to look for food.  Although springtails are around in the summer more people notice their dark colored bodies contrasting against the snow during the winter.  The next time you are out in the snow and think you see a speck of dirt move, look a little closer, it could be a snow flea.