If the winter day is sunny and relatively warm, you might find a sprinkling of tiny insects at the base of trees in Northern Wisconsin. Check the south facing side where the sun’s warmth is greater. What appears to be a dense sprinkling of pepper is, in fact, a gathering of one of the few winter-active insets, the snow flea.
These insects are not actually fleas, but an even more primitive insect. Look closely and you’ll see the minuscule specks jump into the air as high as three or four inches. Tucking their tails beneath their bodies propels them upwards, giving these creatures their other common name, springtail.
[Image: Courtesy of Flickr user lotterhand]