Springtails

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. 

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Springtails-NC State University, Springtail-Carlo Denegri Foundation

Description 
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.

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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.

Control
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.

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Comments

  1. Angela Gorman says

    I am not sure if this is what we have or not. They are tiny, white, and look almost like minature worms. I have not look at them with a magnify glass, to tell if they have legs or not.

    I am finding them on the side of our pool. They do not appear to be doing any damage. I can easly wipe them off, but they keep returning.

    I am looking for a way to remove and keep them away from our pool. Seeing them there makes me feel like I am not keeping the pool properly maintained.

    Any information on how to keep them away from my pool would be helpfull.

  2. says

    they have completly taken over my worm bin, I first noticed them on my lettuce I’m still not sure if that is what they are, very small white creatures with legs and one set of antenae. I can only see them thru magnifiers. they do die in soapy water .should I try to erradicate them?

  3. brp4e. says

    i found a small amount in my vivarium on this dead plant i thought was still alive, i killed most of em but imma leave the rest seeing as they are beneficial

  4. larry says

    We now have Springtail appearing in large numbers on top of 10 to 12″ of snow. The weather is hovering around 30 to 40 degrees, and the bugs mass on mounds and depressions in the snow, and are generally scattered anywhere you look outside. They have not been a problem inside, however, I am sure we are tracking them in. We live in Spokane, WA. A bug specialist I consulted today also has a sample from a town 20 miles north of us.

  5. sandy says

    i think i might have this type of bug, in my lower cabinets, sometimes i’ll find dozens of them in the bottom of a bowl. i don’t know what to do. help!

  6. CadePope says

    I have thousands (tens of thousands) of these guys (springtails) living on the surface tension of my swimming pool. I suspect I am under chlorinated.

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