Get your kid.
Take them outside.
Find a patch of snow, preferably around the base of a tree or by a ditch, usually in the shade. See those black dots there? No, not the dirt, that’s brownish and probably too big. The tiny black dots. Yeah, those.
Yeah. They’re moving. That’s not dirt. Dirt doesn’t jump like that.
What are those things?
Those are snow fleas, or springtails. They are harmless, don’t worry. They don’t want to bite you or get into your house. They just hang around, eating leaf litter and other plant matter. They actually are around all year, we just notice them more in the early spring because they like to hang out on top of the snow where their color makes them more visible.* No one really knows why. Maybe they just need a little fresh air. Aren’t we all desperate for that these days?
Now you know.
*All of this information was learned during the research portion of my daughter’s science fair project from last year: Bugs in Winter. Please let me know if you’d like a copy of her executive summary.