Springtails are small, tiny insects ranging in size from 1/64″ of an inch to about 1/2″ an inch. These multi-colored, bright blue, pink, yellow, red, spotted, striped pests… as well as gray, brown or black color from the sub-class Collembola.
Their name comes from a forked appendage that moves suddenly giving these insects the ability to jump. This makes these insects appear to “spring” but they have no wings. However, they are no longer considered insects due to their internal chewing mechanism.
Collembola thrive in large numbers in mulched, moist areas feeding on algae, decaying vegetation and plant matter fungi and mold. After a long period of rain, they even call the house swimming pool.
In the house, you’ll find them in damp places like the kitchen, bathroom, a moist basement, window frames, leaf litter, and potted plant material. The springtail causes little damage, but their large numbers can make them a nuisance. They chew plant roots and inhibit the plant’s hardiness.
Are springtails harmful?
Harmless to humans and they don’t bite.
What Are Springtails? Culture & Life Span
Their rapid/quick reproduction starts from egg stage to adult and takes four to six weeks, which means a quick life cycle. Females lays eggs either in packets or singly. Eggs hatch within five to ten days depending on the prevailing weather.
Springtail Solutions For Houseplants & Garden
So, how to get rid of springtails?
It’s very difficult to get rid of springtails especially when using chemicals. Most available chemicals for springtail control are not effective. Also, the availability of moist surfaces act as the breeding sites for them. Below you’ll find some of the strategies that can kill/repel them from your garden.
Watering Plants Less Frequently
When springtail infestation shows up in your houseplants, let the potting soil dry before watering your plants. Springtails do not like dry soil, thus interrupting their habitat and reproduction cycle. Reducing the moisture problems can make the springtail infestation in your house temporary. Also consider watering from the bottom up by allowing plants to “wick up” water.
Periodic Inspection And Removal
Check for any springtail infestation around the edge of pots and exposed root crowns where these pests cluster. Inspecting pots and potting soil periodically and removing infested plants helps with springtail control by keeping their population down. It also helps you discover other garden pests lurking in your house or property.
Use Insect Growth Regulator Sprays
When springtail becomes a nuisance, use a spray to control them. Use integrated pest management or an organic product like those listed for organic production such as azadirachtin more at OMRI. Azadirachtin is an insect growth regulator IGR and anti-feedant that will control the pests infestation through growth disruption and starvation.
Many insecticides used to kill/repel springtails are not effective. The most effective control comes from controlling the moisture. Also, liquid insecticides can have side effects on the person spraying the chemical due to its active ingredients.
Remove/Reduce The Amount Of Mulch
Keep leaves, grass and other organic matter away from the foundation. Fill cracks in the foundation or beneath the soil line with mulch as much as possible. Make sure windows and doors seal tight.
How To Kill Springtails With Use Of Cedar Essential Oil
Another effective springtail extermination method is by using cedar essential oil. Treat your plants in your garden with this natural oil.
Avoid aromatherapy and cosmetic cedar oil as they are not purified and mostly come from some forms of cypress trees.
Cedar oil is formulated to kill all types of parasites, including the springtail. You can use the cedar oil fog machine to penetrate the unseen crevices and cracks.
Inspect Plants Before Buying
Most of the time, springtails bugs come with potted plant material. Inspecting the potting mixture before buying will go a long way to ensure plants don’t come home already with the bug infestation.
Use of your fingers, touch or push down on the potting mixture and watch for “jumping” springtails.
Use Of Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
If the infestation persists, try using as a non-toxic and biodegradable soil drench to repel or kill the bugs. With this method, you may be required to apply more than once to see the effect. Another option to try – bifen granules for control.