Springtails

Springtails are the most common insects in the environment, even though they don’t attract attention and are often overlooked. They are one of the most abundant insects and develop very large numbers when a suitable habitat occurs. There have been sources that estimate there being millions of springtails in one area about 2.5 acres of land. They can certainly be a pest when they start to find themselves in and around homes and other buildings. They can also migrate indoors in great numbers even though they occur mostly outdoors.

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They are very small, usually somewhere between 1/16th and 1/18th in. long and sometimes smaller. Their bodies are white to gray or even a blackish brown. Some can even be iridescent and bright colored. Springtails are wingless and do not fly, however, they do jump. They have a forked appendage, called furcula, is connected to the bottom of the stomach and can be moved away from the body suddenly, which causes the insect to jump. This is where their name comes from.

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These insects feed on algae, fungi and decaying vegetable matter. They are associated with damp conditions, organic debris and are found in soil, leaf litter, lichen, under bark, decaying plant matter, rotting wood and other areas of high moisture. they can develop in large numbers in mulch bed areas and thatch of lawns surrounding homes. When conditions are suitable, it is possible to find them inside, especially in bathrooms, basements and kitchens, places that are damp. They can also be found in over watered house plants.

Springtails generally do no structure damage but homeowners find them to be a severe nuisance because they are often encountered in large numbers. They are also very harmless to people, they do not bite nor do they sting. They also do no damage to food products, clothes or furniture.

To help keep these inscts clear of your home you can keep the moisture areas of your home dried out. Afteer using any sink or tub, you may want to dry them out so no moisture is left to attract them. They are generally only a temporary problem and die when moisture levels are reduced.

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References:

https://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/springtails/

Truman’s Scientific Guide to Pest Management Operations (seventh edition)

 

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