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Juvenile termite, I think

Juvenile termite, I think
Alameda County, California, USA
March 2, 2010
Size: ~0.05 in., 1.3 mm
Three or four of these were on the mud coating the lower part of a stick used as a plant support when I pulled up the stick. Too small for a good photo. They look much like the baby termites in , also found in this yard. Maybe the body proportions differ a little.


Well done, Ken!
Do not frass the picture, pls. Records of Collembola in nests of ants or termites are rare and quite interesting.

These were isolated specimens
Thank you, Dr. Janssens, but please let me clarify something. Much as I'd like to provide a rare and interesting record, this isn't one. The thumbnail showing termites is there only for comparison. That photo was taken in January. Yesterday's springtail, the one in the main photo, was in a different part of the garden and not near an ant or termite nest that I know of.

for clarifying.


Springtail, I believe.

I think Ken is right
I think Ken is right- although I can't be certain with this resolution, the very young termites would not he found away from older worker termites. All termites hate being exposed to air, so that there would need to have been some damage to the tunnel they were traveling in to expose them. And if there was damage, it would be odd to see the early instars and no workers or soldiers. Morphologically I can't make the call on this image- I'm just basing this on behavior.

"The tunnel they were traveling in"
Although wood was present (the stick), the creatures hadn't bored into it. They were walking on the mud that covered its lowest four inches or so. At least one crawled into the mud on being exposed, but two or three kept walking on the surface for several minutes. After returning the creatures to the ground, I rinsed off the stick and didn't notice any tunnel openings. This argues for springtails.

When I found termites, however, the ones in the linked photo, they didn't seek shelter immediately, either.

I think the tunnels John was referring to
would have been in the ground, not in the stick (termites eat plant matter, but they often nest in the soil). So you could have conceivably pulled out some very young termites along with the stick.

Looks as if we just can't be sure. So move on over... I'm getting up on that fence myself. :)

That does it
I have to get a better camera!

Assorted possibly relevant facts:

- The ground there is very wet from recent rains up through and including this morning. So I'd be surprised if anything could make stable tunnels in it.

- The previous termite colony was inside a big, woody, dead piece of buddleia. I pulled the stick out of a radish bed where there shouldn't be any large pieces of dead wood.

- The animal in the current photo doesn't have much of an indentation behind its head, and the baby termites have a clear incurving contour there.

Given your uncertainty,
where would you suggest this image be placed? Keep it in Collembola? Move it to ID Request for others to examine? Frass as hopelessly unidentifiable?

I'd suggest leaving it in Springtails...
...until Frans comments. He will undoubtedly have the definitive word on the subject. Then (unless he is able to identify it further) I'd suggest this move to Frass.

Sounds like a plan.
Thanks, Harsi.

You know, I wondered about that
but I hadn't heard of subterranean springtails.

Can I go back to sitting on the fence?

Sure :)
Might want to move the pic, though.

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