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From the Winter 2010 Conservationist for Kids

child searching for sand fleas

Outside Page

By Gina Jack


Dress warmly, head outside and carry your insect detective kit in your backpack. Include a magnifying lens, plus a journal and pencil so you can record your findings. Add some field guides, too, and go on a hunt for a really cool winter insect.

If the weather is warm, look around the base of trees in forested areas for black specs, like freshly ground pepper. They may be adult snow fleas, a type of springtail which overwinters in the leaf litter at the base of trees and emerges on warmer winter days. Put your hand near them and they'll leap away. Look closely with your magnifying lens and you'll see six tiny legs, a sure sign that this is an insect. Sometimes there are so many in one area that the snow looks black.

For more information about hibernation:

Animals Hibernating: How Animals Survive Extreme Conditions by Pamela Hickman (Kids Can Press, Tonawanda, New York, 2005)
Animals That Hibernate by Phyllis J. Perry (Scholastic Inc., New York, 2001)
Do Not Disturb: The Mysteries of Animal Hibernation and Sleep by Margery Facklam (Little Brown & Co., Boston, 1989)
"Hibernation and Winter Withdrawal" by Paul M. Kelsey in Conservationist, October-November 1968, pp 20-27.
"A Long Winter Nap" by Anita Sanchez in Conservationist, December 2006, pp 22-23.
Under the Snow by Melissa Stewart (Peachtree Publishers, Atlanta, GA, 2009) (for younger readers)
What is Hibernation? by John Crossingham and Bobbie Kalman (Crabtree Publishing Co., New York, 2002)
DEC's New York State Wildlife webpage
"Secrets of Hibernation" by Peter Tyson (PBS, Nova Online, 2000) (focus is on bears)
Kenneth Storey's web page describing his hibernation research (see especially wood frogs, insects)