Hairy Elongated Springtails from Pit Trap

2022 May 22

I had left a “pit trap” [1] out for a few days, and when I looked inside it on May 7, 2022 it was pretty much seething with springtails. You can se several of them in this next picture. Each of them was approximately the size of the commas in the preceding line of text. The stuff that looks like giant rocks, is soil and grains of fine sand. I think I see eleven springtails in there.

These springtails seem hairier than the ones I’ve photographed before, but they are still elongated types

As tiny as they are, they still have discernable eyes, which you can see in these next two pictures:

When you think about it, this is crazy. Their “eyes” are so tiny, they are almost the wavelength of visible light. They are so tiny that I am not sure that if you made a pinhole that size in a sheet of aluminum foil, that a human eye could see any light through it. They can’t possibly be registering anything we would think of as an image, they must only be light/dark sensors.

Springtails are really getting down into the region where they are microscopic organisms. Even though they are all over the place, we never think about them because even if they crawl on our skins they are so tiny that we can’t feel them, and are unlikely to see them unless we look really closely. These are right around half a millimeter or less in length. There are single celled organisms bigger than than that! As far as what species we have here, I don’t know. I mean, I think they are all at least the same genus, and probably in the family Entomobryidae, but while I did download an ID key they mostly require basically dissection under a fairly powerful microscope to get down to genus and species.

[1] The “pit trap” amounts to a disposable plastic drinking cup embedded in the soil so that its rim is level with the ground, with a disposable plastic dinner plate propped up over it to keep it from being flooded when it rains. I’ve been putting some moist soil in the bottom so that the trapped creatures have somewhere to hang out until I come and look at them.

Comments are closed.