Springtails

At less than 1/5 inch, these small, pale brown to grey, soft-bodied insects leap using an appendage on the tail (furcula). They prefer moist environments and can escalate to high numbers.

Commonly found in moist or damp places Springtails are usually in contact with soil. Homeowners encounter them in damp basements and on the surface of the soil of household plants. Populations are often high, up to 100,000 per cubic meter of surface soil, or many millions per acre. Although Springtails have chewing mouthparts, they rarely, if ever, damage houseplants and their roots or leaves. Typically, they feed on the thin layer of microscopic mold that grows on soil surfaces. Indoors, springtails are associated with plumbing leaks under sinks or roof leaks, condensation around windows or other conditions that create high humidity. They may also be pests in new construction when damp building materials are used and before “green lumber” dries out. Springtails can gradually build up to high numbers in these areas.

Fortunately, springtails rarely require control with pesticides. Managing them is as simple as drying out the site. A simple house fan properly directed in a moist bathroom may eliminate an entire population. If a leak is allowing an area to remain moist, repair the leak and dry or replace the wet wood or any other moldy material and install a portable de-humidifier.

For a small, infested site, such as under a sink, remove all items, vacuum up the springtails, wipe down the surfaces with a mild bleach solution and ventilate and dry the area with fans, a small heater or a hand held blow dryer.

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