Image: Springtail

Springtail

Springtail, line drawing. Springtails belong to the Order Collembola.

Creator:
Andrew Howells
Rights:
© Australian Museum

Notes

What do springtails look like?

Size:
  • Usually 1 mm - 3 mm in length, though some grow to 10 mm.
Body:
  • 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.
Antennae:
  • Bead-like, or thread-like.
  • Rarely longer than body.
Eyes:
  • Absent or very small.
Mouthparts:
  • Enclosed within the folds of the head (difficult to see).
Wings:
  • Absent.
Limbs:
  • Six legs usually short and stumpy.
Abdomen tip:
  • Forked springing organ or anal spine (often folded under the abdomen).

Where are springtails found?

  • Anywhere.
  • 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.

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Tags springtails, collembola, invertebrates, identification, Bugwise,