Springtails are very tiny (.25-1mm long) insects with humpbacks, scales, 6 legs and have no wings. Colours range, transparent, white and various greys or black.Â
Springtails-NC State University, Springtail-Carlo Denegri Foundation
They may be mistaken sometimes for fleas because they can jump just like a flea and the hump on the back. When disturbed they jump all over. However they will not bite you and fleas will. These guys are actually cool and I consider them beneficial. Did you know that they clean themselves after feeding just like a raccoon.
Springtail larvae- U of Kentucky, Springtails size-
Habitat and Lifecycle
They are found wherever there is an abundance of moisture. Storm drains, household plants, foundations, wet leafy mold, compost, rich moist soil, rotting wood or bark, fungi, mold, mushrooms, algae and other moist organic materials. Some species are found in the home around damp basements and crawl spaces. They may even be found around a well. Their lifecycle is egg, larvae and adult and this occurs year long depending on where they are.
Diet and Damage
They usually are not a big threat but they have been known to eat young tender seedlings, seeds and bulbs. My feeling here is leave them alone because they break down organic materials so I consider them beneficial. They are a big part in the decomposition of your compost pile. This pest can be found in greenhouses or houseplants but cooler damper climates can produces hoards. Rarely will you have to take drastic measures but it is good to know what these guys are. They also eat bad nematodes, mite eggs, small insect larvae and droppings from other insects. Make your own decision if you encounter them.
1) En masse they can be swept into a dustpan and dropped in soapy water. (I’d recommend dropping them in your compost pile)
2) Problems in homes or greenhouses can usually be controlled by letting the soil dry out as they cannot live without moisture but most of your plants can.
3) Sticky traps placed around the affected plants may help to trap them while in adult stage.
4) You could use safers soap spray but I don’t recommend this unless you feel it is necessary.