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Springtail (Various spp.)

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

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Image Credit: Steven K. from California, MD
Full-sized image of the Water-Springtail Thumbnail image of the Water-Springtail
Image Credit: Larry M. from NC
Full-sized image #2 of the Water-Springtail Thumbnail image #2 of the Water-Springtail

Rafts of Springtails can tread on the surface of water thanks to a specialized appendage and water tension.

Updated: 06/07/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
This microscopic creature is not an insect, but a hexapod. It is tiny enough to require a microscope in order to see it in detail. 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 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 and some species are often seen on snow, giving them the moniker 'snow fleas' though they don't bite and are harmless.

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.©InsectIdentification.org

Known Diet of the Water-Springtail

decaying plants and animals
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General Characteristics

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

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Collembola
      Order: Poduromorpha
        Family: Odontellidae
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          Genus: Various
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            Species: spp.

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Various spp.
Other Name(s): Water Springtail; Snow Flea
Category: Springtail
Size (Adult; Length): 1mm to 2mm (0.03" to 0.07")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: blue; red; brown
Descriptors: jumping; tiny; small; mat; cluster; floating; bugs

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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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the 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 Springtail. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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