Snow fleas, scientifically known as Hypogastrura nivicola, are tiny insects that are highly active during the winter months. They’re also known as springtails.
These critters are typically found outside in moist areas. But they can occasionally live in indoor spaces and multiply.
This article will take a closer look at what snow fleas are, whether they bite, and how to remove them from your home.
Snow fleas are small black insects with antennae and an elongated oval shape. They’re about 1/16 of an inch or 1.5 millimeters long.
Despite their name, snow fleas aren’t actually fleas. They’re called “fleas” because they travel by jumping around, much like the fleas found on pets. They don’t have wings.
The critters are also called “snow fleas” because they’re more noticeable on snow. They gather in large numbers and look like jumping flecks of black pepper.
However, snow fleas aren’t only found during the winter. They’re active all year round.
Snow fleas can survive during the winter because they have an antifreeze protein. This protein lowers the freezing temperature of their body, allowing them to survive in cold weather.
Snow fleas are typically found in moist places like wooded areas with rotting leaves and logs. They eat fungi, bacteria, and algae that’s found on decomposing organic matter:
Snow fleas are not actually fleas. And, unlike the fleas you typically find on your pets, snow fleas do not bite. The insects are harmless to both humans and pets.
Although they don’t bite, they may become a nuisance if they’re in your home in large numbers.
Snow fleas are beneficial to the ecosystem. They eat decaying organic materials, like dead leaves, which turns them into fertile soil.
This promotes nutrient recycling, or the process of adding nutrients back into the environment.
The critters also eat fungi that cause diseases in plants. Plus, they’re a food source for other insects, including beetles and small spiders.
Snow fleas are an important part of a healthy environment. But if they get inside your home, they can become a nuisance.
Inside, snow fleas are typically found in moist, damp areas. You can find them in spaces both in and around the home, including:
- window planter boxes
- under porches
- near building foundations
- near leaky pipes
- floor drains
However, it’s rare for snow fleas to get inside the home. They also won’t damage indoor structures, even if they accumulate on various surfaces.
Still, snow fleas can quickly multiply and gather, which can be frustrating.
Snow fleas need moisture to survive. So, if you have snow fleas in and around your home, you’ll need to focus on getting rid of excess moisture.
Here’s what you can do to reduce snow fleas in and around your home:
- Fix leaky pipes in your kitchen, bathroom, and basement.
- Use a dehumidifier or fan to dry out a space.
- Remove standing water in your basement and outside of your home.
- Make sure rainspouts direct water away from your home.
- Discard any damp and moldy wood.
- Dry out the soil in flowerpots, then water less frequently or for a shorter length of time.
- Use less mulch around your home’s foundation.
If you only have a few snow fleas, you can just use a vacuum to remove them. But for severe infestations, you may need to contact a pest removal professional.
Although snow fleas do not bite, you may wonder about other bugs and their activity during the wintertime.
In general, many bugs that bite are less active in the winter. This includes insects like:
Depending on the type of bug, this might happen because they:
- die when they’re exposed to low temperatures
- stay dormant in the cocoon stage
- hibernate in soil or hollow logs
Meanwhile, some other bugs may stay active in the winter, especially in the home. Examples include:
- Bed bugs. Since you can find bed bugs in indoor furniture, they can live during the winter because it’s warm inside the home. Still, bed bugs can survive in low temperatures by slowing down their metabolism.
- Spiders. Most spiders don’t bite humans. But some types, like the brown recluse spider, can survive during the winter and bite if they’re trapped against skin.
If you’re concerned about insects inside your home, try to keep your space clean and tidy.
Get rid of clutter and garbage as soon as you can, and vacuum surfaces frequently. This will give bugs fewer places to hide, and also help remove them before they multiply.
Snow fleas, or springtails, are tiny insects that do not bite. They’re harmless to both pets and humans.
You’re more likely to notice them during the winter months, when the critters are more active and jump around on snow.
Though snow fleas are normally found outside, they can sometimes live in indoor spaces. They’re commonly found in damp areas of the home, like basements or near leaky pipes.
To get rid of snow fleas, try to limit excess moisture in and around your home. If the amount of snow fleas is severe, call a pest removal professional.