Whenever we use the word “wildlife,” there’s undoubtedly the assumption that we’re referring to mammals, birds, fish and reptiles. However, the largest group of living creatures in the world, insects, falls under the generic term “wildlife” as well.

Walmart Texas Tournament Trail -Photo courtesy of FLWWhen winter’s snow covers the ground, about the last thing you’d expect to see are insects. There is, however, a pair of invertebrates that can be abundant in the wintertime when the conditions are just right. Midges, or snow flies, are well known to trout fishermen. These tiny gnat-like insects will often hatch in great numbers in slow moving streams on sunny days. When the midges have hatched, trout and whitefish become very active, feeding on both emerging nymphs and adults.

Another common winter insect is the mysterious snow flea. On clear, sunny days, you might see these tiny black specks on banks of snow. On bright days, their bodies absorb enough sunlight to stay active, but once night hits they lie frozen until the next day.

Snow fleas belong to a primitive group of insects called springtails, so named because of a spring-like appendage on their abdomens which snaps downward to hurl the insect distances of up to a foot away. Snow fleas come closer than any other insect to being universal, because they’re found on every temperate continent, as well as in the Arctic and Antarctic.

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