Springtails receive their common name from the fact that most of the species of springtails have an appendage that is spring-like which allows them to jump. One adult springtail can jump quite high considering its minute size. An adult springtail, which is about 5 to 6 mm long, can jump as high as 75 to 100 mm. They are not a major threat to people but they are considered a major nuisance pest in areas that have high moisture content. Springtails can be found all over the world and of all the species that are found throughout the world, about 675 different species of springtails are located in the United States and Canada.>> Read More
Adult springtails range in size depending on the species. They will range from anywhere from 1 to 10 mm in length. They have elongated bodies that are soft and they do not possess wings. Generally, they are a whitish gray color; however, there are some species that are purple, blue, green, yellow, or orange in color. Unlike most other insect species, they have mouthparts that are initially chewing mouthparts but can be modified for filtering or sucking. They possess a peculiar spring-like structure on the ends of their bodies which gives them their name because this spring-like structure is actually the appendage that allows them to jump. Immature springtails have virtually the same external appearance as adults do. There are minor biological differences; however, when compared externally, fully matured springtails and immature springtails look extremely similar.
Springtails exhibit an uncommon type of reproductive behavior where the males actually transfer sperm indirectly to the female. They actually deposit sperm on the ground or on a surface where they are later picked up by the female. Eggs that are fertilized are laid singly or can be laid in clusters if the environment is moist enough. During the developmental stage, there are about 5 to 10 molts and even after they have fully matured, adults will continue to molt throughout their lifetime. Some species of springtails can even molt up to 50 times. Although they continue to molt, there is no increase in size after about the 15th molt. The entire developmental time takes about 2 to 3 months but it really varies largely depending on the species and also environmental circumstances. The range of the developmental time amongst all the species is actually from just 1 week to over 2 years.
Because springtails lack a breathing tube system, their respiratory system is completed through cuticles in their bodies. Although this is acts well for breathing, this also means that there is avid water loss through the cuticles. As a result of avid water loss through their cuticles, springtails are limited to just moist or damp areas. Most species of springtails will be found in or near the soil is outstanding numbers. Sometimes, the number of springtails can reach 50,000 per cubic feet.
They will, often times, enter buildings in search of a moisture source when their original habitat is dried out. They can enter through entry points throughout the building like cracks and crevices around utility pipes that enter the building, window screens, cracks in door frames, and etc. They are also brought in by potted plants. Indoors, they are commonly found in areas that are high in moisture content. These will be places like the bathrooms and kitchens, damp basements and wall voids, crawlspaces, sinks, tubs, in or around potted plants and etc. Old and moldy mattresses, stuffed chairs, bedding, and couches have been a good habitat for springtails. Outside, springtails can be found in leaf litter, mulch, firewood, and etc.
One of the most effective ways to control springtails is to dry out the infested area. They will either leave the infested area or die out. If there is an infestation that cannot be controlled by drying out the infested area, use an appropriately labeled insecticide with a residual time. These will typically be a liquid concentrate form, a wet-able powder form, or a dust product. Also, if there is a noticed springtail infestation around the perimeter of the structure, use the insecticide to do a barrier treatment. Caulk and seal all cracks and crevices and inspect potted plants before they are brought into the house.
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