The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Spring Tale

Posted by | April 25, 2013

The lunchtime trail walk temptation was strong on Wednesday, so I went to the bog boardwalk to eat in the sun. I had late April optimism about birds and butterflies, but saw few of the former and none of the latter during my half-hour sit.

Close-up view of springtails on boardwalk planksAfter being settled with a sandwich for several minutes, I happened to glance down at the boardwalk a few planks away and registered a whole lot of movement. In a moment I realized that hundreds — no, thousands — of itty bitty jumping bugs were teeming over the area. A quick check of my food and clothes calmed fears of an infestation, then I gave my full attention to the easily overlooked swarm.

Springtails, I thought, since I know the so-called "snow fleas" are very tiny and tend to sproing unpredictably. I reversed my binoculars to get a magnified view, but quickly knew a close-up was going to be impossible. Instead, I concentrated on capturing a few snapshots of their sheer abundance.

The Maine Forest Service shares some photos and facts about the state's Collembola. Though they are arthropods, they are now considered separate from the insects. I suppose there's a good chance my lunch companions were the harmless Hypogastrura nivicola. If you want to learn more about these miniscule hexapods, Wikipedia's article has more information than I could memorize — oh, so they sport a collophore with eversible vesicles, do they?

A scattering of springtails on the bog boardwalkAn edge view of the bog boardwalk shows the abundance of springtailsA screw head in the upper left gives good scale for the numerous springtails

Photos from top to bottom…

  1. Close-up view of springtails on board cut ends
  2. A heavy scattering of springtails on the bog boardwalk
  3. An edge view of the bog boardwalk shows the abundance of springtails
  4. A screw head in the upper left gives good scale for the numerous springtails

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