Springtails (collembola)

SIZE: Less than 1/5 inch (5mm)

HABITAT: Springtails are commonly found in moist or damp places, usually in contact with soil. Homeowners encounter them in damp basements and on the surface of the soil of household plants. Plants that are over- watered during the fall and winter can support a large population of springtails in the potting soil.

Populations are often high, up to 100,000 per cubic meter (35 cubic feet) of surface soil, or many millions per acre. Some can reproduce at temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celcius).

Springtails have chewing mouthparts, but they rarely, if ever, damage house plants (roots or leaves). Frequently, plants begin to decline and homeowners blame the springtails. But not so! Springtails rarely cause the death of house plants-over- watering can, however.

INTERESTING FACTS: They may live in termite nests, in snow and even in mushroom cellars.
When attempting to feed eastern white pine fungus to springtails, scientists found that almost all of the insects died: the fungus paralyzed the springtails and then grew filaments into them to suck out all the delicious springtail nutrients.