Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tiny Jumping Bugs In Homes and Yards - Springtails

close-up of springtail/collembola
I get questions through my 'Bugs site every week about tiny jumping bugs in people's homes. The questions usually start something like: "I've found tiny jumping bugs on my _____, what are they and what should I do?" Since there are only a few small insects that actually jump or hop when disturbed this question is pretty easy to answer even without a good photo.

These tiny critters are called springtails, or collembola, and they are not really insects at all but rather primitive soil micro-arthropods (a distinction that is only of interest to an entomologist!).

See Springtails In Homes and Gardens for more pictures and life history.

Springtails live in soil where they feed on bacteria, fungi, and occasionally plant roots. They are harmless to plants and even beneficial to healthy soils. Very large populations can build in highly organic soils. They are most often noticed following heavy rains when they are washed out of the soil by flooding and concentrate where rain water pools.

Springtails can enter homes when outside soils are saturated following heavy rains, or they can be brought in with house plant soil. Again, they are completely harmless and can be simply swept up when found. See the article cited above for more information.


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