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SPRINGTAILS IN SPRINGTIME!

By Chris Williams on April 3, 2017.

April showers bring May flowers…and maybe springtails!

Springtails are primitive creatures that used to belong to the insect group but now that lineage seems to be in dispute. They’re tiny (about 1/16-inch), soft-bodied and wingless, and come in a range of colors from pastel pink to black. They have 6 short legs and a pair of antennae but their main distinguishing feature is a “furcula” appendage under the tip of their abdomen. This is a spring-like lever that allows them to “jump” when disturbed, sometimes pretty significant distances for their size. Of course, you probably won’t see any of this unless you have really good eyesight or look at them under magnification.

SPRINGTAILS REQUIRE DAMP, MOLDY SITES

Because springtails are soft-bodied, they dry out easily and require sites with high moisture. They are very common outdoors in soil, under bark, in leaf litter, etc., but are rarely seen. Homeowners usually first notice them when a roof or plumbing leak has kept surfaces damp in a hidden area. Suddenly there are dozens of tiny springtails. Some infestations are seasonal; certain areas become damp only during periods of excess rain or high humidity. Once the weather changes or the heat comes on, the area dries out and the springtails are gone, at least for the moment.

They also can be pests in new construction or renovated areas until the damp plaster, wallpaper, wallboard, and green lumber have dried out and lost their excess moisture. Springtails don’t damage the materials on which they are found since they feed on mold growing on the surface.

Typical places to find springtails are in damp basements and crawlspaces, in damp wall voids or damp plaster, near sweating pipes or areas of heavy condensation, on rotting wood, in overwatered houseplants, floor drains, around leaky patio doors, and in under-sink cabinets, to name a few.

FIX THE LEAK, DRY THE SITE…NO MORE SPRINGTAILS

Springtail control often doesn’t require the use of insecticides. We can usually get rid of a springtail infestation fairly easily by tracking down the source of the excess moisture, correcting it, and then drying out the area. Sometimes there is no indoor source of moisture or springtails, instead they have found their way inside when conditions around the outside perimeter have become too dry or too wet. In this case, they won’t survive long indoors unless they can find a damp and moldy site that meets their high moisture requirements.

If spring means springtails in your home, give Colonial Pest a call. We can find the source of the problem and can advise you on how best to resolve it. If the moisture and mold can’t be controlled, we can treat the affected area with insecticides to eliminate the springtail population.

For more on springtails:

Photo Credit : Martin Cooper | CC BY 2.0

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