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Springtails get their name from the fact that they can jump into the air using their tails when disturbed. This insect relative can be found anywhere damp.
SYMPTOMS & IDENTIFICATION
Springtails, or Collembola, vary in size and color depending on their environment and food source. The most common ones found in the soil of your houseplants typically appear to the naked eye as pale/white, tiny and wingless. They’re often found in clusters and jump up in the air when disturbed. Springtails prefer even moisture and damp soil, so will be drawn to well-watered plants. But they can also be found in spots where condensation has built up, like underneath the pot, on the tray or in between the nursery pot and cachepot.
Springtails live on microbes, fungi and decomposing material in the soil. They won't harm your plant (they're actually beneficial) as they feed of mold and decomposing leaves that that have fallen onto the soil.
Springtails are harmless to your plant and are very difficult to eradicate. But if you feel like they are unpleasant visitors in your home these are our recommendations:
1. Change the soil
Carefully remove the plant from the pot, remove all the old soil and clean off the roots.
Clean the pots and all tools you're using while repotting
Repot it with new fresh soil and make sure the new soil is free from springtails
If you want to be sure that your soil is free from springtails, or if the soil you've just removed is fairly new, you can sterilize it with heat to kill off any living microorganisms in the soil.
2. Water less in the future
As Springtails are attracted to moisture, ensuring that your plant dries out properly between waterings is the most effective way to deter them from taking hold in the first place.
CAN I PREVENT THIS IN THE FUTURE?
Spring tails are difficult to prevent. They can come in with plants that you've kept outside, or plants that you've just brought home. If you want to prevent any springtails from spreading to your other plants, you can place newly acquired plants, and plants you've brought from the outdoors, in quarantine. Repot them if necessary and avoid sharing trays. But then again, they won't harm your plant so this is isn't necessary unless you think they are unpleasant.
QUESTIONS ABOUT SPRINGTAILS
HOW BIG ARE THEY? Springtails are tiny: between around 1/32 and 1/8th of an inch in length (or around 1-2 mm) depending on the exact type.
WHAT DO THEY EAT? They feed on various types of fungi, pollen, algae and decaying organic matter - hence why they’re attracted to damp conditions. They don’t feed on plants directly, which is why they don’t tend to do any damage to your plants.
DO THEY BITE HUMANS? They are harmless and do not bite, nor do they spread any diseases. They are more of a helpful nuisance than a pest.
WHEN DO SPRINGTAILS TEND TO APPEAR? Springtail infestations can occur at any time of the year.
WHERE SHOULD I LOOK FOR THEM? They can occur both indoors and outdoors. However, if the weather outside gets too damp (i.e. if soil becomes completely saturated or dries out completely), they will migrate inside via any available opening. These include: underneath doors, through small cracks in the walls and via windows. They will then settle in damp areas such as in your bathroom or basement. You can also look out for them on window sills, and, of course, in the soil of potted plants - especially if these plants have particularly damp soil.