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Water Springtail (Podura aquatica)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Water Springtail

The dark-bodied Water Springtail can tread on the surface of water thanks to its small size and a specialized appendage.

Updated: 07/15/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
This microscopic hexapod is tiny enough to require a microscope in order to see it in detail. Water Springtails have a furcula. This is a spine-like tail that snaps down, propelling them up into the air. It offers a fast means of transport and evasion from threats. A tube-like collophore helps keep the springtail steady on take-off. It may also help keep the springtail in place by sticking onto the surface beneath it. Males drop vertical sperm packets on the ground and push females up against them so they pick them up and use them to fertilize eggs. A swarm of hundreds is visible to the naked eye thanks only to their large numbers. Clusters of Water Springtails form on the water surface of creeks, ponds, lakes, and other slow-moving water sources. They may look like a dark mat of algae at first glance. They are also capable of spending time on land.

Springtails are scavengers, eating the decaying plant and animal matter that insects pass over. They are important to an ecosystem since they help return that decaying matter into chemical energy that can be passed through the food web once they are eaten by their own predators.

Known Diet of the Water-Springtail

decaying plants and animals

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Jumping insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Subphylum Hexapoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Collembola
        Family: Poduridae
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          Genus: Podura
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            Species: aquatica
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Podura aquatica
Other Name(s): Springtail
Category: Springtail
Size (Adult; Length): 1mm to 2mm (0.03" to 0.07")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: blue, red, brown
Descriptors: jumping

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 1mm (0.0in) and 2mm (0.1in)
Lo: 1mm
Md: 1.5mm
Hi: 2mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Water Springtail may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Water Springtail. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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