Everything About Springtail


Springtail, common name for any species in an order of primitive wingless insects characterized by a spring-loaded tail. This jumping device, called a furcula, is a forked appendage on the fourth abdominal segment. It is normally folded underneath the body and held in place by a clasplike structure, the tenaculum. To leap, the springtail releases the furcula and is propelled through the air for a distance of up to 20 times its body length. Springtails are also characterized by a ventral tube, known as a colophore, on the first abdominal segment.

Springtails are found throughout the world, inhabiting moist environments such as leaf litter, sphagnum moss, beaches, and pond surfaces. They are small-the largest reaches only about 0.5 cm (about 0.2 in) in length-and are often found in large aggregations. Some species inhabit the surfaces of freshwater or saltwater pools. The common pond springtail is frequently found on stagnant ponds. In one group, thousands of individuals, known as snowfleas, congregate on the snow surface in winter. The snow-loving springtail is a typical species of snowflea.

Most springtails eat decaying matter, but a few consume living plant tissue, and some of these species can be pests. One example is the garden springtail, large aggregations of which can damage vegetables and flowers.

Scientific classification: Springtails make up the order Collembola in the class Insecta. The common pond springtail is classified as Podura aquatica, the snow-loving springtail as Achorutes nivicola, and the garden springtail as Bourletiella hortensis.

Contributed by: Evan A. Sugden

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