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Globular party! - Dicyrtomina minuta

Globular party! - Dicyrtomina minuta
Sweetwater Forest Family Campground, Brewster, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, USA
October 29, 2020
This was bizarre. We had recently bought a trailer, and I took it to Cape Cod for a birding retreat. At one point I went to check on the propane tanks, and noticed that the adjacent motor for raising and lowering the tongue jack was crawling with tiny critters. Looked closer, and found that they were globular springtails, dozens of them! What about this location was such a magnet for them? Were they just drawn to a high point, like hilltopping butterflies? Or were they drawn to some quality of the motor, or maybe the smell of the propane? I also noticed a variety of sizes and colors; I am putting these photos under the heading of the species that appears to match the most distinctly marked individual, one of the two in this photo. Is it safe to assume that the others are different age classes or sex of the same species?

Images of this individual: tag all
Globular party! - Dicyrtomina minuta Globular party! - Dicyrtomina minuta Globular party! - Dicyrtomina minuta Globular party! - Dicyrtomina minuta Globular party! - Dicyrtomina minuta

Moved from forma ornata. You're the best Frans! Do you know, is there something particular about propane tanks that promotes the growth of such biofilms, or do they grow on any object left outdoors sufficiently long?

I do not think...
that it is a biofilm on your propane tank. Just a waterfilm due to condensation of the water vapour in humid air on the cold tank. A phenomenon typically seen in the early morning (dew).

Dicyrtomina minuta forma couloni
There are several forms in this species (previously called D. variabilis ...) :
f. couloni with butt patch not connected to dorsal patch (as in this case)
f. ornata with butt patch and dorsal patch interconnected
f. saundersi with butt patch in shape of multibarred cross
In each form several variations can be observed, indeed depending of instar type, age and sex.
Dicyrtomina has highly modified claws that allow specimens to walk on surfacefilms, even upside down. The tank is covered in such a film that makes it easy for Dicyrtomina to explore the 'new biotope' ;-).