Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A walk in the thaw

That strange shadow is...The Mom. Mr. Attitude was perfectly happy throwing stones into the creek. I've found that's a universal boy thing. Us girls tend to pick up pretty stones and put them in our pockets. I found one Lake Superior agate.

On the way back along the driveway, we saw lots of these black globs in puddles. Dirt? No. Actually, they are little bugs, not insects but in the same phylum Arthropoda, called springtails, or snow fleas, or family Collembola. I was amazed, no matter what they are called.

Whenever the temperature gets above 20 or so, these little black jumpy things come out and pepper the white snow with their presence. I just wonder...do they survive the next winter evening low temperatures? I don't know...

Some of them get caught in water flows. I think hundreds of thousands of them just happened to be caught in this flow, which runs off our driveway and ultimately ends up in the pond. So maybe they are food for insects, invertebrates, maybe even turtles and small fish.

Life never ceases to amaze me.


Anonymous said...

nice pics especially of Mr. Attitude

denise said...

Must be something about the polluted run-off in the city, because I have never seen these little guys. Springtails, you say? I will get down to the river when I feel safe enough (with my arm and all) and look around for them in cleaner water. Very cool!

arcolaura said...

I'll have to look for those springtails!

Frans Janssens said...

Dear Deb, these are Hypogastrura, a kind of Collembola that is known to gather in mass aggregations.
Completely harmless. But spectacular.

I would like to get your permission to use your pics of Collembola as illustrations at www.collembola.org
Copyrights and credits will be provided for each picture used.
Thanks in advance.
Frans Janssens