Name: Collembola spp.

Alias: Springtail, or often they are simply called collembola. These are tiny little insects that are more often mistaken for crumbs or dirt left around the house. They look like a small hairy ant or wasp, but they lack wings or external mouthparts. They get their name from a long tail-like appendage that folds underneath their body and maintains tension. When they need to strategically move in a hurry, they release their tail and “spring” into the air. They prefer dark, damp environments.

Crimes: There are several species that are crop pests in other parts of the world such as Australia. Here in Eastern Idaho, our biggest concern is home invasions. They come into the house and give a definite “ew” factor. Large populations they tend to make a mess of dead bug bodies all over the carpet.

Redeeming Qualities: none.

Sentence: Because they tend to prefer dark, damp corners of the house, the presence of these little pests is more of a symptom of a bigger problem. You probably have a leaky pipe or some other type of moist condition that will cause bigger problems to your home than these little bugs could ever imagine. Start by fixing any damp locations and cleaning up your home. Place pet water dishes a few inches off of the ground where the springtails can’t climb into the dish. No pesticides are really merited to control springtails. They are easily killed with bleach and can be vacuumed easily.

For more information on dangerous and beneficial bugs, call UI Extension educator Joseph Sagers at 208-745-6685 or email jsagers@uidaho.edu.