ophrys's picture

Snow flea

Observed: 12th February 2012 By: ophrys
Yorkshire Naturalists' Union
ophrys is knowledgeable about Invertebratesophrys’s earned reputation in Invertebratesophrys’s earned reputation in Invertebratesophrys’s earned reputation in Invertebratesophrys’s earned reputation in Invertebratesophrys’s earned reputation in Invertebrates
snow flea a1
snow flea
snow flea b

A nice female of the 'Antifreeze Scorpion fly', 'Snow flea' or whatever you want to call it. Managed a couple of photos before it hopped off into a heather bush and promptly disappeared from view.

Species interactions

No interactions present.


miked's picture

Amazing, does it thrive on

Amazing, does it thrive on the cold weather to slow its prey down?

ophrys's picture


Presumably it does, yes, but I know little about the species, to be honest. Buglife has this page on it...


It was only the second time I had specifically looked for the species, and I found it within 10 minutes, so either it is quite common or I had beginner's luck! I was crawling over the snow on hands and knees, though, so think I deserved to find it! The habitat was open heathland in amongst Calluna vulgaris.


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Fenwickfield's picture


That's dedication for an observation or insanity ?, hope you had waterproof's on must say I have nearly injured myself but with fungi hunting not invertebrates.


ophrys's picture

Dedication or insanity

Almost certainly the latter. ;)


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Martin Harvey's picture

10 minutes???

that's really not fair!! I've always wanted to see a Snow Flea and have been looking for them on and off for about 35 years, with no success whatsoever!

Lovely to see the photos, but I really, really want to see one in real life as well. Still, it's nice to have something to look forward to :-)

Most records are from further north than my location, and it does prefer heathland habitats, which are largely absent from my part of the world although I have sometimes visited heaths specifically to look for Snow Flea in previous years.

Incidentally, the national atlas account for Snow Flea says that its eggs and larvae develop in unspecified mosses, and appeals for the mosses to be identified when Snow Fleas are found in association with them.

I'm now inspired to redouble my efforts to see the fabulous Snow Flea, but perhaps I need to book a winter holiday in Yorkshire!

Entomologist and biological recorder

ophrys's picture


Apologies for finding it, Martin. If it's any consolation, I had spent about half an hour the day before, as well ;)

That is interesting to know about the moss. I was aware that mosses were the place to look and I found it because most of the snow had gone, and there were just patches left. By looking for areas of moss with snow next to them, I quickly came upon it. I'll see whether I can ID the moss species, if I have time.


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markgtelfer's picture


I've only seen Snow-flea once, at a site in the Brecks where Brian Eversham found it, associated with mats of Polytrichum moss. Not quite as far for you to go as Yorkshire!

ianbeavis's picture

Hunting for the Snow Flea

I've been looking for it too for several years, but without success. I've always thought it ought to be on the heathlands of the High Weald here on the Kent/Sussex border. We have many other plant/animal species with a predominantly northern/western distribution, e.g. Tunbridge filmy fern.

markgtelfer's picture

It is there!

Snow-flea has been recorded from Pembury Walks, part of the Tudeley Woods RSPB reserve, in 2001. Keep looking!

Dioctria's picture

They are out there

Funnily enough there was a first VC55 record just recently, so they are definitely out there!


Nick Upton's picture

Snow flea

Great spot.... Scorpionflies and Hangingflies are always fascinating, but these are extra special. I never think to look for insects when there's snow around, but must try for these...

Nick Upton, naturalist and photographer.