Lush lawns and landscaping are certainly beautiful to look at and the pride
of many homeowners, but they tend to be an invitation to Springtails. To
begin with, a Springtail is a very small insect about 1 to 3 millimeters long
that can be a real aggravation to humans. They have simple piercing and
sucking mouthparts that feed on organic materials like soil like leaf litter,
decaying plants, fungi and even pollen. Although they are a menace to
humans because they get on you, get on your stuff, and are a general
nuisance, they do not have the ability to bite us. Springtails thrive in moist
conditions inside if house plants are present in well or overwatered
containers. Many times, these nuisance pests are seen in kitchens or
bathrooms where a moisture supply is readily available in drains or pet
water bowls.
One of the most interesting characteristics of a springtail is its form of
locomotion. A springtail has an appendage at the end of its body that acts
like a spring, thus the name springtail. The appendage is called a furcula. It
snaps downward to produce a springing action allowing it to jump great
distances compared to its size. To give some perspective to its ability to
jump, we could compare a man 6-foot-tall jumping 600 feet from a standing
position. Wow! That is amazing!
Some folks assume that when they see a jumping insect it is a flea. Do not
be fooled. Most of the time an indoor treatment is not necessary for
springtails. Controlling the humidity inside, eliminating moisture sources
and not overwatering indoor plants inside is a great start for control.
Springtails cannot survive in dry conditions. A springtail is often referred to
as a snow flea during the wintertime when there are periods of above
normal temperatures even with snow on the ground.
Here is a tip for controlling springtails outside. Do not apply too thick of a
layer of mulch. A thick mulch bed promotes fungal and mold growth which
is food for this problem insect. Keep grass mowed short and do not over
water. Keep vegetation trimmed around the foundation of your home. If
control is still needed after self-help has been tried, there are some
pesticides labeled for control.