Have you ever seen a bunch of tiny gray bugs that sometimes leap when you try to touch them (if you’re brave enough)?  Those are most likely springtails.  They generally do no damage, but you may consider them pests (if you’re normal) because they are often encountered in large numbers.

 

“They got hops!”

If you think Michael Jordan had some serious hops, think again!  The springtail can “jump” 3 to 4 inches.  Being less than 1/12 inch long, that’s the equivalent of about 64 times their body size!  They would definitely be first round pick in the NBA draft.

 

Habitat

  • Springtails live in the soil, in leaf mold, under bark, in decaying logs, on the surface of freshwater pools, and in organic mulches.
  • Populations are often high, up to 100,000 per cubic meter of surface soil.
  • They are abundant only in damp, moist, or very humid locations (North Carolina).

 

Feeding Habits

They mainly feed on algae, fungi, and decaying matter.  A few species have even been known to feed on living plants and dead animal matter.

 

Why are they in my house??

Occasionally, these little critters find their way inside our homes.  This is a big no-no!

They will be found, as you know, in the following areas:

  • basements
  • cellars
  • bathrooms
  • kitchens
  • cork insulations
  • damp walls
  • around window moldings

They especially concentrate near drains, leaking water pipes, sinks, and in the soil of over-watered house plants.  They usually appear in the spring and early summer but can be found all year round.

 

Habitat Alteration

Habitat alteration is the key to controlling these little guys.  While we’re more than happy to send out one of our certified technicians to take a look at any concerns, and treat where necessary, the only long-term solution to control these pests is habitat alteration.

  • Use a fan or dehumidifier to dry out damp areas.
  • Repair plumbing leaks and dripping pipes.
  • Avoid over-watering potted house plants and allow the soil to dry between waterings, if possible.
  • Outside the home, remove excessive mulch, moist leaves, prune shrubbery and ground cover, and eliminate low, moist areas around the house foundation to permit proper air circulation.
  • Remove wet, moldy wood or other moldy items.
  • Clean up any loose boards or similar materials from damp floors.
  • In short, any procedure that eliminates moist places of concealment will likely be of value in managing springtails.

 

Clean-Up

Springtails can be deterred by cleaning!

  • Spray vinegar directly on the springtails, and take a rag and spread the vinegar around infested areas.  The high acidity content of vinegar can burn and kill springtails.  Let this sit for some time.
  • After using vinegar to help with the immediate issues, wash down the infested surfaces with detergent and water.  The soap solution will burn and even drown large numbers of springtails.  For larger droves of springtails, or for best results, make sure to repeat the process several times on each infested area.  These pests are persistent, so we need to at lest match that persistence!
  • BLEACH!  What problems does bleach not solve??  Springtails are a very resilient bunch, and using soap solution or vinegar can only do so much.  If you want a stronger and faster acting remedy, you should use bleach.  Since this is a corrosive solution, it can easily eliminate very large numbers of these pests.