Saturday, July 14, 2007


Springtails (collembola) are among the smallest insects in the home landscape. They are flea-like and barely visible. Springtails possess a forked structure folded under the body that when flicked, allows it to catapult around quite well. Springtails may differ in size, shape and color. They are slightly smaller than a flea and do not bite. Springtails prefer moist environments and feed on decaying plant material, fungi, etc. and are most often seen in mulch. Sometimes they may annoy people if they occur by the millions in a yard and show up on the foundation, the driveway or in the swimming pool. If they are very prolific, they may be found indoors on floors. If found in houseplant pots, change the bark mulch and reduce the watering frequency.
Control is not very effective. If desired, they can be hosed off of hard outdoor surfaces with or without a little soap added. Infestations are short lived and rarely justify the expense of control. Determined homeowners may use one of the available lawn products containing a pyrethroid insecticide such as permethrin, bifenthrin or cypermethrin. Ornamental and Turf Insect Note No. 123 contains more information on springtails.

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.