Springtail, line drawing. Springtails belong to the Order Collembola.
- Andrew Howells
- © Australian Museum
What do springtails look like?
- Usually 1 mm - 3 mm in length, though some grow to 10 mm.
- Globular or column-like.
- Has a siphon tube just behind the rear legs. This tube is prominent in springtails that a reduced springing organ.
- Appears soft.
- Bead-like, or thread-like.
- Rarely longer than body.
- Absent or very small.
- Enclosed within the folds of the head (difficult to see).
- Six legs usually short and stumpy.
- Forked springing organ or anal spine (often folded under the abdomen).
Where are springtails found?
- Most are found in soil, amongst leaf litter, or around decomposing logs, dung or root zones.
- Often seen after heavy rain as a dark purple scum on the top of puddles.
What do springtails do?
- They often group together in large numbers.
- When disturbed they spring (jump) erratically, sometimes over large distances.
- Most springtails eat microflora such as bacteria and fungi, decaying plant and animal material or graze other plant related surfaces.
- Some are also known to eat waste products from other insects or even their own.
- A small number are predators, pollen-feeders, or plant feeders.
- They are active during the day and night.
What looks similar?
- Springtails are very distinctive so are not generally confused with any other animal.