Pest Identification: Springtail
Most Common Types
Springtails are members of class Collembola.
What They Look Like
Springtails are tiny hexapods, 1/16th to 1/8th inch long. They have six legs, moderate-length antennae, and are wingless. Most springtails are dark in color, brown, grey, or black, but some species are bright white. Springtails get their name from their method of locomotion. They have a spring-loaded, forked appendage, called a furcula, on the underside of the abdomen. The furcula acts like a mousetrap. When it is released, it snaps and propels the springtail forward for a distance of several inches.
Where They Live
Springtails are some of the most common insects in the environment and scientists estimate millions of them live in an acre of land. However, their small size makes them easy to overlook unless they appear in large numbers in a basement, garage, kitchen, or bathroom.
Where They Nest
Springtails live in damp soil, leaf litter, lichen, rotting wood and other areas of high moisture content. They feed on fungi, pollen, algae, and decaying plant matter. They might also appear in houseplants.
Steps to Prevent
Springtails only come indoors when seeking a moist area of the home. If the insects become a problem repair leaky pipes and consider installing a dehumidifier in a damp basement. Outdoors, move rotting leaves and mulch away from the foundation and do not overwater lawns, gardens, and houseplants.
Are They Harmful?
Because of their sheer numbers springtails can be a nuisance when they appear in homes and outbuildings. While the sight of thousands of tiny jumping insects may be disturbing, springtails do not cause damage to structures, gardens, clothes, or furniture. They do not bite or sting and are not harmful to people or pets.