Black blob on ground

Asked October 7, 2019, 5:26 PM EDT

We live on 10 acres of mostly red pine with some red oak and scrub trees. In the fall we have been getting slow moving masses of charcoal black teeny bugs so small you can't see them. Millions of them. What are they and should I worry about them?

Muskegon County Michigan

1 Response

They are probably springtails, which are very common insects in the upper layers of the soil and leaf litter. Always numerous in healthy soils, they rarely come up to the light of day, so people never see them. They feed on tiny bits of organic material, such as bits of leaves, fungi, bacteria and whatever else they can chew on, and they are very important to the recycling of organic materials into available nutrients for plants to absorb.

I have no good idea as to why they would appear above ground in such masses, but I have heard of this sort of thing before. Sometimes they come up onto the surface of the snow in late winter, and they are then called snow fleas.

I doubt this phenomenon will last for very long, there should be no need to do anything about it.