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Class Collembola - Springtails and allies

Snow Flea - Hypogastrura nivicola Springtail - Pogonognathellus dubius Brown Patchy Springtail - Ceratophysella Springtail - Entomobrya clitellaria Sminthurus mencenbergae (dark form) - Sminthurus mencenbergae Unknown Globular Springtail Dicyrtomidae - Ptenothrix palmata Springtail
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Collembola (Springtails and allies)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Apontoptera Shipley 1904
Formerly treated as part of Entognatha, an assemblage later determined to be polyphyletic
Explanation of Names
Collembola Lubbock 1870
Greek kolla (κόλλα) 'glue' + embolon 'peg, stopper'(1); refers to a peg-shaped structure on the first abdominal segment, the collophore, once thought to be an adhesive organ
over 8,200 described spp. worldwide, arranged in >670 genera, 31 families, 15 superfamilies, and 4 orders(2)

Genera represented in our area
Classification adapted from(2). Taxa not yet in the guide are marked (*). The synopsis has been kindly reviewed and corrected by Dr K. Christiansen.
Superfamily NeanuroideaFamily NeanuridaeSubfamily *Frieseinae *FrieseaSubfamily Morulininae Morulina · *PromorulinaSubfamily NeanurinaeTribe Neanurini *Deutonura · *Endonura · *Kalanura · NeanuraTribe Morulodini *Christobella · MorulodesTribe Lobellini Lobella · *LobellinaTribe Paleonurini Bilobella · *Blasconura · *Paleonura · *Paramanura · *Speleonura · VitronuraTribe *Paranurini *Oregonanura · *ParanuraTribe Sensillanurini Americanura · *Palmanura · SensillanuraSubfamily Pseudachorutinae Anurida · *Anuridella · *Arlesia · *Furculanurida · *Hylaeanura · *Micranurida · *Neotropiella · *Oudemansia · *Philotella · *Pratanurida · *Protachorutes · *Pseudachorudina · *Pseudachorutella · Pseudachorutes · *Pseudanurida · *StachorutesFamily Brachystomellidae Brachystomella · *RapoportellaFamily Odontellidae *Axenyllodes · *Odontella · *Stachia · *Stachiomella · Superodontella · *XenyllodesSuperfamily PoduroideaFamily Poduridae PoduraSuperfamily HypogastruroideaFamily Hypogastruridae *Acherontides · *Acherontiella · *Barbagastrura · *Bonetogastrura · Ceratophysella · *Choreutinula · *Cosberella · Hypogastrura · *Mesachorutes · *Microgastrura · *Neobeckerella · *Paraxenylla · Schaefferia · Schoettella · *Stenogastrura · *Tafallia · *Triacanthella · *Typhlogastrura · *Willemia · XenyllaSuperfamily OnychiuroideaFamily OnychiuridaeSubfamily Lophognathellinae LophognathellaSubfamily OnychiurinaeTribe Hymenaphorurini *Arneria? · *Dinochiurus · Heteraphorura · Hymenaphorura · Kalaphorura · *Paronychiurus · *Psyllaphorura · *Reducturus · *Vexaphorura · *WandaphoruraTribe Oligaphorurini *Chribellphorura · *Dimorphaphorura · *Jacekaphorura · *Megaphorura · *Micraphorura · *Oligaphorura · Protaphorura · *SupraphoruraTribe *Thalassaphorurini *Agraphorura · *Allonychiurus · *Tantulonychiurus · *Thalassaphorura · *UralaphoruraTribe Onychiurini *Deuteraphorura · Onychiurus · *Orthonychiurus · *SimilonychiurusFamily Tullbergiidae *Multivesicula · *Pongeiella · *Rotundiphorura · *WeineraSubfamily *Tullbergiinae *Fissuraphorura · *Neonaphorura · *Stenaphorurella · *TullbergiaSubfamily *Stenaphorurinae *Karlstejnia · *Mesaphorura · *Metaphorura · *Paratullbergia · *WankeliellaSubfamily *Austraphorurinae *Granuliphorura · *ScaphaphoruraFamily *Pachytullbergiidae *Sensiphorura
Superfamily TomoceroideaFamily *Oncopoduridae *Harlomillsia · *OncopoduraFamily Tomoceridae *Lethemurus · *Plutomurus · Pogonognathellus · *Tomocerina · Tomocerus · TomolonusSuperfamily IsotomoideaFamily IsotomidaeSubfamily Anurophorinae Anurophorus · *Blissia · *Cryptopygus · Dagamaea · *Hemisotoma · *Isotomodella · *Isotomodes · *Micranurophorus · *Micrisotoma · *Pectenisotoma · *Proisotomodes · *Pseudanurophorus · *Stachanorema · Tetracanthella · *UzeliaSubfamily Isotominae Agrenia · *Axelsonia · *Cheirotoma · Desoria · *Gnathisotoma · *Granisotoma · *Halisotoma · *Heteroisotoma · Hydroisotoma · Isotoma · Isotomiella · Isotomurus · *Marisotoma · Metisotoma · *Misturasotoma · *Mucronia · *Myopia · Parisotoma · *Pentacanthella · *Protoisotoma · *Psammisotoma · Pseudisotoma · *Pteronychella · *Semicerura · VertagopusSubfamily *Pachyotominae *Coloburella · *Pachyotoma · *ParanurophorusSubfamily Proisotominae *Appendisotoma · *Archisotoma · Ballistura · *Bonetrura · *Clavisotoma · *Cliforga · Folsomia · *Folsomides · *Folsomina · Guthriella · Proisotoma · Scutisotoma · *WeberacanthaSuperfamily EntomobryoideaFamily EntomobryidaeSubfamily Entomobryinae Calx · Coecobrya · Drepanura · Entomobrya · Entomobryoides · *Himalanura · Homidia · Mesentotoma · SinellaSubfamily Lepidocyrtinae Lepidocyrtus · PseudosinellaSubfamily OrchesellinaeTribe Orchesellini *Dicranocentrus · *Dicranorchesella · Orchesella · *PseudodicranocentrusTribe *Corynothrichini *CorynothrixTribe Heteromurini *Heteromurtrella · HeteromurusSubfamily Seirinae *Lepidosira · SeiraSubfamily Willowsiinae Americabrya · *Desertia · WillowsiaFamily ParonellidaeSubfamily Cyphoderinae CyphoderusSubfamily ParonellinaeTribe Cremastocephalini SalinaTribe *Paronellini *CampylothoraxTribe *Troglopedetini *Dicranocentruga · *Trogolaphysa
Typically 1-5 mm(2)
Online illustrated key to orders
Online illustrated key to the Nearctic families
Minute wingless hexapods. Not all species "spring." Body elongate or oval. Abdomen with 6 or fewer segments. Usually a forked structure (furcula) on 4th or 5th abdominal segment, and a small tubular structure (collophore) on the first abdominal segment. Antennae short, 4-6 segmented(3)
Species with a furcula are jumpers; the furcula is normally folded under the abdomen, and the insect jumps by suddenly extending the furcula ventrally and posteriorly(3)
Collembola have a ventral tube. From this tube they can everse two 'sacs'.
Eyes: The black patches on the head are the lateral eye clusters. Each eye patch is composed out of max 8 single eyes. In the Collembola bodyplan, the eye cluster has 6 fotosensitive single eyes and 2 single eyes that are sensitive to polarised light. In many Collembola the number of single eyes in the eye cluster is reduced. In many soil and cave species the single eyes are completely absent. Collembola have also frontal eyes. In the large facial space below/between the antennae you will often see a kind of dark spot. This spot marks the location of the frontal eyes. These are embedded deep into the skin and have no external (domelike) components.

Soil, leaf litter, under bark, in decaying wood/fungi, on water surface; some on vegetation(3). In our area, at least 11 genera include truly aquatic members, >20 genera are regularly found on water surface, and others yet, occasionally.(4) Often found indoors, especially in moist or damp situations such as basins, sinks, tubs, showers, potting soil of houseplants, and windowsills where condensation has accumulated.
biology discussed in detail in(5)
Can be found at all times of the year. Some species known as "snow fleas" even occur in vast numbers on the surface of snow in the dead of winter.
Springtails are "decomposers" that thrive mostly on decaying organic matter, especially vegetable matter. They may also graze on spores of molds and mildews, especially indoors where there is a lack of other food sources. Interesting note on "tasting behavior":

"Collembola have a quite elaborated organ at the tip of their antennae (several specialised setae, called sensilla, placed near to the tip and some have on top of that a kind of exposable and retractable bulb at the tip). This organ can be compared with our taste organ. So, I guess, the specimen is figuring out whether or not the stuff beneath its feet is consumable or not. It is a nice shot of such 'tasting behaviour'." (comment by Frans Janssens)
All Collembola have a ventral tube from which they can everse two sacs. In Symphypleona, these sacs have evolved into long multifunctional tubes, used [i] to regulate the internal osmotic pressure by taking up water with the tips of the eversed sacs/tubes, [ii] to adhere to smooth surfaces, and [iii] for grooming. (From Frans Janssens's comment)

"[T]he scale cover has two main functions: 1. to prevent/reduce dehydration 2. to reduce the grip of predators: the scales are easily detached, so when a predator grabs a specimen, it can mostly escape using the furca, leaving the predator behind with a bunch of scales... In the next moult the scales are then restored." (See Frans Janssens's comment)

Springtails indoors should be ignored, as they cause no health threat whatsoever and will quickly die or disperse as the areas they frequent dry out. If you simply cannot stand their presence, then the only way to control them is to thoroughly dry the areas where you find them. Chemical treatments are not effective. Consider a de-humidifier for the room, or sprinkling a fine layer of diatomaceous earth (DE) where you see the springtails. The DE will etch the cuticle of insects, causing them to lose water and die. Do be cautious with DE if you have pets or curious children since DE is essentially pulverized glass.
Internet References
Overviews: Meyer (2009), Ramel (yyyy)
live photos from Sweden by Krister Hall
Works Cited
1.Composition of scientific words
Brown R.W. 1956. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. 882 pp.
2.Checklist of the Collembola
3.A Field Guide to Insects
Richard E. White, Donald J. Borror, Roger Tory Peterson. 1998. Houghton Mifflin Co.
4.Aquatic Insects of North America
R. W. Merritt, K. W. Cummins, M.B. Berg. 2008. Kendall/Hunt.
5.Biology of springtails (Insecta: Collembola)
Hopkin S.P. 1997. Oxford University Press. 330 pp.
6.Hopkin S. (-2006) Collembola of Britain and Ireland