Springtails and Snowfleas

Springtails are minute wingless insects of the order Collembola that live in a variety of moist habitats. Because of their small size and micro-habitat, they are seldom observed. Springtails are generally considered harmless, but at times large numbers may invade greenhouses, swimming pools or houses to become a nuisance.

Springtails emerge in enormous numbers so they appear as "piles of soot" in driveways, backyards, on mud puddle surfaces, etc. Some are known as "snow fleas," because they appear on the top of snow during late winter and early spring.

Springtails are named for the forked structure attached to the underside of the abdomen which acts as a spring to flip them into the air. This behavior gives them the appearance of tiny fleas.

Springtails are about 1/16 inch long and vary in color from nearly transparent, to white to dark gray to black. They feed on algae, fungi, and decaying vegetable matter.

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Identification and Control Information

[Photos, left to right: unknown; Jeff Hahn, University of Minnesota Extension; Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org]