Elongated Springtail from Terrarium

2022 February 6

Another thing I found in our several-years-old terrarium on January 30, 2022 was this springtail. It is a bit bigger than the mite that I also found in the terrarium and posted last week. The springtail might have been a whole millimeter long. Which would make it about the size of this comma (,) if you are reading this in a standard font.

Springtails that you are looking at with the naked eye don’t seem to be going all that fast, but when you are trying to follow them with a high-magnification lens so you can see details, they run like little racehorses. I was pursuing this one madly across a sheet of paper, taking pictures as fast as my camera could cycle itself, and only a few pictures came out in anything resembling focus.

And immediately after that last picture, it flipped around behind the sheet of paper, and vanished.

I’ve had a couple of other pictures of springtails (snow-flea, and the last few shots on the page tasmania-millipedes-from-the-blueberry-patch-mulch), but this is a bit better detail. And besides, it looks like every single one has been a different species. They are all probably members of the order Entomobryomorpha, the Elongate-Body Springtails. This is a huge order, with thousands of species. They pretty much all live in the soil, and feed on rotting debris, fungi, bacteria, and the like.

When one searches online for “springtails”, there are kind of a disturbing number of hits for “how to get rid of springtails”. This suggests that a lot of people think that they are somehow dangerous. Nothing could be further from the truth. Springtails are not parasites on humans or pets, they do not carry disease, they don’t get into stored food, and in general there is no particular reason to even take notice of them. So don’t let the fear-mongers panic you. Just let the poor springtails be.

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