Currently viewing the tag: "snow bugs"

Bugs on Outside of home
Location: Central PA
December 4, 2011 12:36 pm
Hello, I have these little bugs all over the outside of my house. I am not sure what they are. There are a lot of them and I didn’t know if I should get them taken care of the issue or not. Thanks for your time.
Signature: Ryan Lucas

Small Winter Stonefly

Dear Ryan,
This is a Small Winter Stonefly in the family Capniidae and this past January, a submission from Pennsylvania was our featured Bug of the Month.  Small Winter Stoneflies, which are sometimes called Snowflies, will not harm your family nor your home.  They are harmless creatures that need fresh unpolluted water to survive, so their presence in large numbers is an indication that you have unpolluted running water nearby. 

Thank you for the quick response!!
It is good to know that these are safe bugs and that the stream nearby is not polluted.  It’s a great site you have and is very helpful.
Thanks again!!
Ryan Lucas

Mountain Climbing Bug? From Andes..
Location: Andes Mountains
July 22, 2011 6:49 am
Dear Awesome BugMan,
Love the site! I’ve guided trips coast-to-coast, and have seen many cool bugs I couldn’t identify. Thanks!
This bug is from 14,500 feet up in the Andes Mountains, taken in early July.
It has oversized back legs like a grasshopper with large hooks. It is about a 2cm long.
Michael Brown, who runs the Outside Adventure film school, was leading a trip and found it.
Signature: Kaki Flynn

Harvestman in the Andean Snow

Dear Kaki,
We are finally ready to go live with your posting.  Thanks so much for indulging us offline, and first sending a larger resolution image that we requested, and then resending your original written request which got separated from the image.  Once we got the higher resolution image, we determined that based on the number of legs and other anatomical features, that this creature is a member of the order Opiliones, a group of Arachnids that are commonly called Harvestmen or Daddy Long Legs.  Last year, we received this image of an Opiliones from Chile that somewhat resembles your individual, but that species is found near the beaches, and your specimen is far from the ocean at a very high altitude.  We did a web search of Opiliones and snow and we found this Snow Creatures webpage that has a gallery of images of insects found in the snow, and it includes a single photo of an Opiliones on page 3, but it looks nothing like your individual.  Continued searching led us to a BioOne website of online journals including one entitled On the Occurrence of Epizoic Cyanobacteria and Liverworts on a Neotropical Harvestman (Arachnida: Opiliones)1. By scrolling to the end of the journal article, there are several images that you can enlarge of Opiliones from Brazil in the genus
Neosadocus.  Structurally, they look even more like your individual.  While we have been unable to locate anything specific on Opiliones found at high altitudes in the Andes, we are confident that we have the order Opiliones correct.  For some interesting general information on Harvestmen, you can read the Opliones in the UK and Continental Europe web page.  There are so few insects and arachnids that are active in the snow, this was a very exciting posting for us to work on.  Again, thanks for indulging us and resending the information and images we requested.  We do have a final request.  Can you please provide the country where the sighting occurred.  We guessed at Peru, but we are not certain.

Male Midge – Chironomidae
Location: Utah, 6,000 feet
March 5, 2011 11:29 am
I see several insects in the winter, as the weather begins to warm up. On this walk I took, I found several of these little black, fuzzy antenna insects. I perused your site, as well as another site that talks about insects, and think I’ve identified it as a Male non-biting Midge.
This was taken in Utah, at about 6,000 ft. on March 4.
Signature: Wendy

Snow Midge

Hi Wendy,
Your identification is correct.  We are pleased to hear that you are using internet resources to research your identification requests and that our site was a component of your research.  Though we have photos of Midges on our website, your photo is the first Snow Midge we have received.  BugGuide has an excellent image of a male Snow Midge that matches your image.  We also found a very nice Nature Post on Snow Midges on the Abundant Nature website.

Location: Utah, about 6,000 feet
March 5, 2011 11:42 am
This image has been sitting in my file for a a couple of years, waiting to be identified. I’ve looked at images of other snow scorpionflies, and seems to fit the best, but wanted to get your opinion on it.
Thanks for your help.
Signature: Wendy

Snow Scorpionfly

Hi Wendy,
You are absolutely correct.  This is a Snow Scorpionfly in the family Boreidae which you may verify on BugGuide which indicates they are found:  “on surface of snow at high elevations in southern part of range; on snow in various habitats farther north

Correction:  December 2, 2012
We received a comment that is resulting in a correction.  We agree with Marc from the Netherlands that this is a Wingless Crane Fly, not a Scorpionfly.  We found matching images of
Chionea on The Dragonfly Woman as well as BugGuide.

snow bugs
Dec 10, 2010
December 10, 2010 11:37 am
I really tried to identify the 3 bugs on the snow I sent 12/1/10. At least I went thru your website and bugguide… I’m thinking you haven’t had much luck either. The one looks like a mini cranefly to me and I thought the other 2 were springtails, but they were solitary critters, and they are all wrong anyway! Any website suggestions I might peruse further? I can’t believe how addicted to bugs I’ve become since I found your website looking for an aquatic larvae! Never found the exact one, but I’m pretty sure it was some kind of beetle. Love your site and thanks for doing so much so well.
Signature: Cathy Schabloski

I wouldn’t be nekkid out here…
Location: Tonasket WA, near Canada
December 1, 2010 4:43 pm
Amazing what is out on the snow, and so very tiny and frail! I found 3 different kinds today. It’s about 32F now, and last week it was -12F. I think this one is a type of springtail, but had no luck with the other 2. I left them for you to crop as I feared loss of whatever resolution there is.
Signature: Cathy

Snow Scorpionfly

If I had wings, I’d fly south
Location: Tonasket WA near Canada
December 1, 2010 5:02 pm
Sorry, couldn’t find her, she’s about 2mm long. Why do I think she’s a she? I’ts 32F here and was -12F last week. Do I have no more sense than a bug? Actually, we both must love it here! And I know if this bug knew about your site it would love it as much as I do and be in awe of all you do. Thank you everyone that helps.
Signature: Cathy

Fungus Gnat

ovipositer? snow?
Location: Tonasket WA near Canada
December 1, 2010 5:21 pm
I’m just guessing here, maybe a type of springtail? only 2mm or so. Who would believe something this small at 32F and last week it was -12F. Where do the eggs/larvae/babies hang out until it gets warm(!) enough to come out and play? I saw 3 differnt kinds today. I am constantly amazed, both at the world around me and what y’all do out of the goodness of your hearts and the love of bugs.
Signature: Cathy

Snow Scorpionfly in the genus Bores

Dear Cathy,
We apologize profusely.  We wrote you back the day after you sent the three snow insects and we indicated we would research you insects and post them.  We forgot.  It is the end of the semester and work is piling up and we failed to deliver.  We can tell you that none of your insects are Springtails, be we still need to research them.  The one you believe to be a Crane Fly is some species of fly, and we believe it may be a Gnat.   At least we have posted your photos and as we research, we would gladly welcome any input our readership may provide.  You might want to post a comment to the posting and you will be notified in the future if any experts are able to provide any information.

Update and Correction: Snow Scorpionfly perhaps
Hi again Cathy,
We believe the insect with the ovipositor may be a Snow Scorpionfly in the genus
Boreus.  You can check the Crane Flies of Pennsylvania website to compare the image of a female posted there.  BugGuide also has information on the Snow Scorpionflies in the genus Boreus including this description:  “Adults dark-colored with an elongated rostrum (“beak”), long antennae, vestigial wings, and long hind legs adapted to jumping; female has a straight ovipositor about the same length as the rostrum, and tapering to a point; males have a blunt rounded abdominal tip“.

Chen Young provides identifications
December 12, 2010
Good morning Daniel,
The two wingless images are not crane flies instead, they are Snow Scorpionflies in the genus Boreus, family Boreidae and order Mecoptera   I provided some short comparison in the crane fly website here for your informaiton
The fly with wings is a Fungus Gnat in the family Mycetophillidae.
Have a happy and safe holiday season.

December 12, 2010
I had just come to the same conclusion about the scorpionflies, thanks to your recommended website. I wish I had had my camera today because I got to see the forked projections on the backside of the male, they can raise and fold them back down flat, and he has a sort of single “Mercury wing” coming off the back of his head. Thank you and Chen so much for your help.  Daniel, you certainly don’t need to apologize to me for being busy and forgetting a few things! Thank you again.

Update:  Fungus Gnats can survive subzero conditions.
February 10, 2011
fungus gnat
February 10, 2011 7:58 pm
On 12/1/10 I asked you to identify what turned out to be a fungus gnat and male and female scorpion fly. I looked up the scorpionfly fly right away, probably because of the name… and found the heat of your hand can kill them! Well, I just looked up fungus gnat, and I don’t know if the one I read about is my exactr same one, but this tiny delicate thing can go to -60 and the abdomen freezes, but not the head! It will survive to -100. Here’s the website, I’ve always liked bugs, but you and all your contributors have given me a new fascination for all of it! Thank you so very much.“
Signature: Cathy Schabloski

Thanks for the link and information Cathy.  This is fascinating.

F.Y.I. – StoneFly
March 2, 2010
With the help of your site there is no doubt that what we came across is the StoneFly. This is just additional comments if anyone is interested. While hiking on Feb 28, 2010 with temperatures of about +2 celcius we saw hundreds (or thousands) of these insects slowly crawling across the top of the snow ALL in the same direction (maybe toward the river or bush, which were both in that direction). If we stood still for a few seconds the bugs closest would almost always turn toward us (eek!). We thought maybe they were young Earwigs and it might be a sign of an infestation for the summer but it is nice to see that is not the case. We were very surprised to see any bugs at all!
Thanks for your excellent site!
Southern Ontario, Canada (about 25km n/w of Toronto along the Humber river)


Hi Dan,
Thanks for your wonderful observations of the behavior of the Snowfly, a species of Winter Stonefly.  Can you recall if the alignment had anything to do with the sun or with the wind?  For Americans that might be celcius challenged, +2 translates to about 35 degrees Fahrenheit.  Thanks so much for including the terrain where the sighting occurred.  We are happy to see that there was an instant hit to our Bug of the Month posting for March.

Location: Southern Ontario along the Humber River

It was very overcast for the entire day so that you couldn’t even tell in which direction the sun was. There was no discernable breeze but the flies would have been headed directly into the slight breeze that there was. To me it doesn’t seem like it was either of those factors that effected their direction though.
There would have been 2-3 acres of the flies fairly evenly dispersed and I would say that every one of the flies was headed the same direction. There are a few photos and you can see in the photos with more than one fly that they are all facing the same direction. In their tiny little insect minds it seemed that they knew exactly where they were going….

Request from the Xerces Society
Permission to Use Photo
Hi there; I am conservation biologist with the Xerces Society ( currently writing an Endangered Species Act (ESA) petition to list a couple of rare, endemic, and highly threatened Idaho snowflies (family: Capniidae). I am inquiring after permission to potentially use a photo that a user submitted on your site. Do you have contact information for all of your users? The photo of interest is at this url: 2010/03/02/snowfly-a-winter-stonefly-2/. Posted just yesterday. The photo would be credited, of course.

Hi Sarah,
Here at What’s That Bug? we reserve the right to grant permission to nonprofit education ventures to use images posted to our site, often because the requests are made years after the photos were submitted and we cannot contact the photographer.  In this case, Dan’s email address was still handy, and he can respond directly to you if he would like to grant permission.

Hello Sarah,
Yes, I do give permission to use these photos. If you do use the photo(s) and your report will be accessible to the public I wouldn’t mind knowing how to take a look at it when complete. I have been trying to inspire a teenage niece and nephew to have an interest in photography (I believe an enthusiasm for photography enhances your appreciation for everything you see whether photography related or not) and they may be impressed to see what interesting things can develop. Don’t worry if you forget to inform us when the time comes. It is not terribly important.
I have attached the highest resolution photo of the fly. There are 5 or 6 other photos of groups of flies on the snow if they could be of any use. Let me know if you would like a copy of them.
If these flies are rare enough that there should be some effort to preserve their environment then let me know and I will forward the info to conservation groups here.
It is nice to see that my photos might be of some use!
Good luck with your efforts!

Dear Sarah and Dan,
I am glad to see that we have come to a collaborative agreement in this matter.  Often preservation of a single humble species is imperative for the preservation of an entire ecosystem.

Thank you, Dan.
Yes, I will email you the petition when complete.
For the time being, do introduce your niece and nephew to our website,, which features many fantastic photos as well as lots of really good, free invertebrate conservation resources.
The “store” has some cool kids books for sale, too, if you are interested.
Since your species is unidentified, I have no idea about its rarity. Many snowfly species are weak flyers (hence the walking you observed?) and are highly endemic (e.g. confined to single stream or small cluster of sites). They are also generally very sensitive to pollutants and have very narrow habitat requirements (e.g. cold water, high dissolved oxygen, pebble-gravel substrate, etc.). In fact, stoneflies are considered to be one of the most sensitive indicators of water quality in streams and are frequently used as sentinel organisms in biomonitoring, as they are among the first macroinvertebrates to disappear from systems impacted by physical habitat degradation and thermal and chemical pollution.
Re: your species, I would start by looking on NatureServe (or whatever local Conservation Resources you have) to see if there are any snowfly species in your area that people have already flagged as sensitive. If so, you could do your best at further ID, or follow through with them to see what they think. I might have a chance to look into this a little bit, too, in the coming month or so. Right now I’m rushing to get this petition out in time, or I would do more.
Thanks so much,
I’m really quite envious of your sighting!

Hi again Dan (White),
Sorry, I missed the part about you having photos of multiple stoneflies together.
Yes, those would be really cool to see if you get a chance!
I’m curious about their density while walking, etc.

UPDATE:  June 22, 2010
Hi Dan,
just wanted to let you know that we filed the petition for Capnia lineata and zukeli
It is currently available on the home page of our website ( ), a few items down…
Thanks again for the use of your photo!
It looks great!