Springtail (podura, springtail)

Description of springtail

Springtails, or springtails, are extremely widespread, especially in temperate latitudes, there are many of them in the tropics, they are found both in the Arctic and Antarctic - wherever there are at least mosses and lichens.

This is interesting! Springtails , or springtails (Collembola) - a subclass of arthropods, in the modern classification classified as cryptognathous. Currently, scientists have described more than 8 thousand species of springtails.

Springtail Tomocerus vulgaris.

These insects most often live among rotting plant remains and in the surface layer of soil, but many also live deep in the soil, often penetrating deeper than other animals. Among springtails, there are also those that live on the surface of plants, and there are even those that have passed on to life on the surface of a film of water.

The number of springtails is also very large. For example, in the soils of forests and meadows there are often several tens of thousands of springtails per square meter. Springtails are very diverse both in body shape and color: as a rule, species that live in the soil and do not leave it are white, springtails that live on the surface of green plants, greenish, but among those living in the forest litter or in the felt of dead herbaceous plants , along with grayish and brown ones, brightly colored or metallic shiny species are not uncommon.

Springtail Orchesella villosa.

Those springtails that live on the soil surface can move in a very unique way. As already noted, on the lower surface of the posterior end of the abdomen there is a special organ not found in other arthropods, the so-called “jumping fork.” In a calm state, it is tucked under the abdomen. Quickly straightening this “fork”, the collembola pushes off from the object on which it sits and makes a sharp jump.

Springtails that stay on the surface of the water (there are some) can jump, pushing off even from the surface film of water - their body is not wetted by water.

White springtails, which always live in the ground and do not appear on the surface, do not have a "jumping fork"; they can only crawl with the help of short chest legs, often not even noticeable when viewed from above. A number of springtails harm plants, such as green smintur onychiura , which eat en masse into the succulent roots of greenhouse plants . Some species probably cause harm indirectly by spreading fungal spores that cause plant diseases.

How to protect plants from springtails

It is necessary to create conditions that are unacceptable for springtails, then their colonies will not appear in flower pots or on window sills. Agricultural techniques are becoming of great importance. They should be aimed at eliminating factors contributing to the reproduction of insects. methods can be used :

  • When replanting plants, do not use substrates that contain rotting organic residues, green films of algae, or white mycelium hyphae.
  • Water only when the top layer of soil dries out. Pour enough water so that there is about 1 cm on the surface.
  • Do not use easily decomposed products as organic fertilizers (tea leaves, coffee, rotted leaves, dairy products).

When various wastes rot in pots with indoor plants, conditions arise for the growth, development and reproduction of springtails. In this case, colony control measures are used based on traditional methods or the use of insecticides.

  • removal of the top layer of soil (2 cm);
  • creating an insulating layer of calcined sand (1.5–2 cm on the soil surface);
  • watering plants with infusions of yarrow or tobacco;
  • treatment of substrates with a solution of potassium permanganate (potassium permanganate);
  • watering the soil in pots twice with an insecticide (at weekly intervals). The drugs Aktara, Actellik, Bazudin, Inta-vir, Kinmiks Fitoverm are used.

Treating window sills, baseboards, bathroom and kitchen floors with a solution of soda or soap gives a good effect. An alkaline environment and lack of moisture are detrimental to springtails. If possible, all sources of mold and water “blooming” should be eliminated. These could be faulty taps, damaged pipes, old wooden tubs with indoor plants.

collembola photo

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Is it necessary to fight springtails?

In general, springtails are not only harmless, but even useful: they contribute to the decomposition, transformation into humus and mineralization of plant residues and, according to modern data, play a very important role in soil formation. So don’t rush to remove your springtail with the fury of a tiger, as the chemical may be more harmful to your pet than the springtail itself .

Collembola genus Paratullbergia callipygos subfamily Onychiuridae

Green minthurus, alfalfa flea beetle (Sminthurus viridis)

How to recognize collembola?

The size of springtails ranges from 0.2 mm to 10 mm (very few species). Springtails prefer a secretive lifestyle in places with high humidity. They live in the soil, under the bark of dead trees, in leaf litter, and in cracks in stones. Springtails feed on fungal mycelium, bacterial plaque, algae, mosses, and lichens. Only a few species can feed on higher plants. Unfortunately, this is exactly what flower growers are faced with.

Identifying these representatives of the animal world is quite difficult. There are many views on the taxonomy of springtails, as a result of which many synonymous names are mentioned in the literature.

The small size and secretive lifestyle of springtails make it difficult to study them. The lack of accessible and complete identification literature on these groups of insects makes it almost impossible for non-professionals to identify springtails.

Fortunately, the biology of soil springtails is similar enough that precise identification is not required. It is enough to know that these are springtails and not to confuse them with other insects (thrips, rootworms) and mites. To develop adequate control measures, if necessary.

Water springtail, or water forktail (Podura aquatica).


It is believed that springtails arose in the Devonian (ca. 420 million years ago), from where their first paleontological finds ( Rhyniella praecursor)


According to DNA research[3], it has been established that springtails represent a separate evolutionary lineage within Hexapoda. However, there is also opposite data[4][5]. The taxonomic level of springtails varies depending on which group they are classified into. When they are included in the Insect class, they are given a squad level; as part of Entognatha

they gain a subclass level.
If they are considered as the basal line of evolution of Hexapoda
, then they correspond to the level of a separate class.

Springtail structure

Springtails got their name due to a special jumping organ (jumping fork) located on the underside of the abdomen. The fork is held in a “cocked” state by a special hook. If necessary, the fork is released and, hitting the ground, throws the collembola forward and upward. Some springtail species have an elongated fusiform body shape. They are traditionally called fools . The other part is distinguished by a rounded abdomen and a spherical body; they are usually called sminturs . In a strict sense, this is not entirely correct. Sminturs are only part of the springtails that have this spherical body shape.

Springtail larvae completely repeat the body shape of adult individuals, differing from them only in size and maturity.

The color of springtails (podur and smintur) is very diverse. Most species have a whitish, gray, yellowish, or brownish color, sometimes with a metallic sheen. Representatives of some genera may have a marble pattern, or less often, one or more transverse stripes. Some mints may have a clear dot pattern.

When growing indoor plants, most often found are white, grayish in color, sometimes with a greenish or silver-metallic sheen.

Harm from springtails

Single damage caused by a few podurs cannot cause much harm to the plant. Large poduras (1-1.5 mm) can only cause real and significant damage to seedlings. The seedlings at the stage of opening the cotyledon leaves are completely eaten by springtails.

Green smintur, alfalfa flea.

The harm from poduras is also significant in cases where there are too many of them and the room temperature is low. Plants weakened by unfavorable conditions slow down their growth and development and cannot regenerate normally. In such conditions, multiple damage caused by podras becomes an open gate for a wide variety of fungal and bacterial infections, which can not only weaken, but also destroy part of the plants in your collection.

How to get rid of springtails?

Podura are almost always present in volumes with mature plants, and it is not necessary to conduct a directed fight against them with normal agricultural technology. The main measure to combat outbreaks of podar numbers can only be compliance with the conditions of correct agricultural technology for growing plants.

The substrate should not contain a large number of actively decomposing components (unrotted leaves, tea leaves, decorative sawdust). The volumes must have good drainage to prevent stagnation of moisture in the soil. Watering is moderate, as the soil dries. The volume of the pot should correspond to the size of the root system. The place not occupied in the near future by plant roots will be occupied by fungi, bacteria, algae, the earth will turn sour, and fools will breed.

The number of duras remarkably restrains a number of predatory mites, which are also almost always present in the soil.

If there are too many springtails, change the soil to a new one. If history repeats itself, then reconsider the soil composition and watering regime.

In cases where you need to take urgent measures to reduce the number of poduras, you can use systemic insecticides (Mospilan, Aktara, etc.). You can restrain and somewhat limit the number of fools by also adding citramon or askofen to the water for irrigation (half a tablet per 2-3 liters of water).

Centipede from the class Symphyla and springtail Poduromorpha.

When sowing Saintpaulia and Streptocarpus seeds, the soil must be thoroughly steamed. The container in which the seeds are sown must be sealed and have no drainage holes accessible to the pest. It is especially important to comply with these requirements when there are few seeds or the germination rate of the seeds of a given hybrid is very low.

Excerpt characterizing Springtails

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