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Dicyrtoma 1 - Sminthurides

Dicyrtoma 1 - Sminthurides
Duke University, Durham County, North Carolina, USA
I was TAing the Duke course "The Diversity of Life" for Dr. Alec Motten in 2003 when I found Duckweed flowers, not an easy task! I was looking through jars of pondwater with duckweed for more flowers when I spotted this critter walking on top of the water. I took these photos by holding the lens of my camera (an Olympus pocket digital) up to the eyepiece of a dissecting microscope. I e-mailed them to a springtail specialist (I'm afraid I can't remember whom) who tentatively identified them as genus Dicyrtoma.

Images of this individual: tag all
Dicyrtoma 1 - Sminthurides Dicyrtoma 2 - Sminthurides

Hi Joshua. The description of the peculiar behaviour convinces me that it is centainly NOT Dicyrtoma. It is Sminthurides of the family Sminthurididae. The male is much smaller than the female. The male has clasping antennae with which it can clasp itself to the antennae of a female. The 2 pictures do not show any clasping antennae. Therefore it must be a female or a juvenile.

New guide page
Thank you for straightening that out Frans! I have created a guide page for the genus Sminthurides, including a description of the courtship behavior, and relocated my photos there. If we ever manage to get a microscope at my current location, maybe I can find a *real* Dicyrtoma to fill the now image-less section for that genus...

Joshua S. Rose, Ph.D.
World Birding Center
Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park
956-584-9156 x 236

Searching for Dicyrtoma
Hi Joshua. In your hunt for Dicyrtoma you should try looking at undersides of leaves of bushplants. Use an upside down held white umbrella under leaves of plants and shake the plant suddenly. Short but firmly. Springtails will jump trying to save themselves. Right in your umbrella... Once you have located them, try to shoot them in their natural habitat. Good luck.
Note that the family of Sminthurides is Sminthurididae, not Sminthuridae.

It must be tiny, any idea of size?

ummm, little....
I don't have any concrete measurements. But if you see those filaments in the background, those are strands of filamentous green algae, 1 cell thick! If anyone knows the width of green algae filaments... ?

Interesting side note: I just missed getting a photo of courtship! The female is much larger than the male; the two cross antennae, and the female lifts up the male and waves him around! I ran down the hall for my camera when I saw this going on, but by the time I came back, I could only find one of the two springtails.

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