Bondi Resort Blog

Come on into our Blog for a look at the wonderful world we've got to share! With over 240 hectares (600 acres) of wilderness woodlands surrounding the resort, just ten minutes from Algonquin Park, we feature over 400 metres (1200’) of waterfront and beach; boat rentals; summer hiking trails winding through fields and woods; 20 km. of groomed cross country ski trails and snowshoeing in winter; access to nearby snowmobile trails for sledders, and a toboggan hill for the young at heart.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Springtails announce Spring's Coming!

Out walking through the back fields on a gorgeous sunny March day, I found a trail of deer tracks that looked distinctly different from the many others I'd already crossed.

This set of tracks looked like someone had sprinkled black pepper across it.

Aha! Snow fleas!

These are a welcome harbinger of spring for us. And no, they are not fleas like you might find on your dog or cat. They are more correctly termed Springtails, and while they are always present in the soil, the only time you see them is in the spring, when they migrate short distances and swarm in sunny depressions in the snow in the process.

They are tiny little things, about 2 to 6 mm long, are stout bodied and wingless, and move so fast it appears they simply disappear. How do they do it? The clue is in the name: Springtails. Snow fleas are actually anthropods with a history dating back to around 400 million years ago.

Their mighty hop is accomplished by two tiny tails that are folded right below their stomach area and held in place by kind of hook. When the snow flea hops, the tails are released projecting them skyward. And how. These guys launch themselves—up to 30 centimetres. That’s the equivalent of us jumping a kilometre.

If you are into the scientific and less pronounceable names, they are from the Hypogastruridae family and Collembola order known as the Hypogastrura nivicola species. Springtails is easier. Snow fleas is best.

The mainstay of their diet is mold and fungus found on decaying leaf matter. They are quite harmless to us -- and if you get down and watch them closely, you can watch them jump. For those who like to get up close and personal, if you place your hand on top of the snow in an area that is peppered with snow fleas, pretty soon you'll find the black specks appearing on your hand. The instant you move, they'll vanish.

During the warmer months they are hard to detect since they live under ground coming out only when they eat. About now, snow fleas are surfacing to mate and migrate. Migration never takes them very far, but it takes a lot of them -- as many as a million of them will move across the ground in a relatively rounded mass, like the one in this deer's footprint.

These tiny little creatures are harbingers of spring, more sure than the arrival of the first robin. They are so easily overlooked, few people know anything about their existence, but here they are, looking like soot sprinkled along the tracks of the deer and the skiers.

Which brought to mind a twist on the old nursery rhyme my Dad used to tell us:

Mary had a little deer,
his feet were black as soot,
and everywhere that Mary went,
his sooty foot he put.

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