I built a small plywood box in my yard (on Long Island, NY, USA) for some stray cats about a year ago. I didn't bother waterproofing the box, and so over time the box has gotten damp.
About two weeks ago I started seeing small reddish brown bugs on the box, and in the food/water dishes near the box. Can anyone help identify them? Here are some details:
- there are 100s of them
- they're really small, the biggest ones are about the size of a sesame seed
- they jump when disturbed, usually in an upwards direction
- they don't seem to go on the cats
- some venture 2-4 ft from the box to find food dishes on the ground (concrete patio)
- they drown themselves in the water dish by the dozen
- they're more active when it's warmer (~ 45°). When it's cold (25-35°) they mostly hide somewhere
All of this makes them sound like fleas, but they're not fleas -- they don't jump as high or have the flat body of a flea. They actually look like arachnids. OK that makes them sound like baby jumping spiders - but I've seen baby jumping spiders at work, and these look different (they're reddish brown, not black, and they don't jump in an "across" direction, they jump upwards, kind of randomly). Maybe they're a different type of jumping spider, but why haven't they moved on? Why are they taking up residence on the box, instead of spreading out and going their separate ways like baby spiders usually do?
They're are about the size of a sesame seed so it's hard to get a good picture.
EDIT: new picture collage: