Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Water Springtails (Podura aquatic)

I found a really interesting insect during the Christmas Holiday. I was walking down a fire road in the woods when I spotted something different in the road ruts and puddles.


I took several photos as you can see.


What I was seeing were Springtails (Collembola). At first I thought there were springtails that had landed in the water by mistake but I kept seeing them in every puddle as I continued walking. I contemplated rescuing them and putting them ashore but they didn’t seem to be trying to get to land so I refrained. It was a good thing too, because when I later researched them at home I discovered they are Water Springtails (Podura aquatic). Arthur Evans in his field guide says they are semiaquatic. They feed on decaying plant and animal matter. I have also read that toadlets eat springtails but I am not sure if they eat these or the land variety.


They are actually kind of cute in their Michelin tire rolly polly bodies that are just over 1 mm in length. I haven’t been able to get a really good close up since they are so small but I love this description of springtails from “Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity” by Stephen A. Marshall, “Some are covered with scales, like those of a butterfly, many are brilliantly colored and all are morphologically bizarre, starting from the long, forked tail used to make Herculean leaps, and ending with the deeply pocketed mouth that makes springtails look like they have lost their dentures and then sucked on a bunch of lemons.”






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9 comments:

Gemma Wiseman said...

Wow! A disturbingly fascinating sight! Amazing how close together they all are!

Ellen Rathbone said...

Who knew! And what a great description of the mouth!

I'm going to have to watch puddles now.

hamilton said...

I love that description! Am still enamoured of looking at insects, but a pretty neat sighting, though

eileeninmd said...

OH wow, what a sight to see. Great closeups. Happy New Year!

Woodswalker said...

Amazing! I've seen Springtails on snow, called Snow Fleas, but never on water. They are kind of cute.

The Write Girl said...

Interesting creatures. Thanks for sharing the water springtails.

squirrel said...

Thanks to all who left comments. You can bet I will be looking for snow fleas this winter. Happy New Year to all!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Collembola are pretty cute close-up. I wonder why they congregate in flotillas. Thought you might be interested in this blogger's post about springtails and mites: http://bluejaybarrens.blogspot.com/2012/01/living-raft.html

Pest control Portland said...

Wow, these are some insects. Thanks for sharing:-)