In the world of Science, springtails are called as collembola. Taxonomically speaking, they are from the entognatha, which means that they are organisms in which the jaws are retracted within the head. They approximately have six segments with a ventral appendage called collophore. They molt, live in caves, and may destroy the natural habitat of mammals living underground.
Springtails – Myth vs. Facts
Collembola doesn’t have wings, but they are capable of ‘hopping’. Just imagine the fear of having something which dwells on soil and decaying matter jumping to you. Horrifying, isn’t it? Its size may just fall from 5-6mm, but it was believed to have caused vast destruction to agricultural lands and other mammals.
But, are these true?
Springtails are detritivores in nature. This means that they consume decaying wood and animal carcasses as food. Their bodies are highly sensitive with high temperatures, and with their small size, they are often eaten by insect-eating animals. So, let us try to put light on the issue of collembola causing destruction.
Springtails are not pests
It is unlikely for most insects under the subclass collembola to feed on agricultural crops. First of all, only some of them eat plants as food. Most of them prefer decaying wood and meat, and this enables them to absorb and carry some soil-fixing fungi with them. The fungi Mycorrhiza, for example, clings to the endoskeleton of the springtails, thus making them spread such microorganism to the soil they walk on. Mycorrhizal fungi are believed to help the soil regain its natural minerals which could be of help in the growth of the crops planted in it.
Therefore, saying that springtails are pests to agricultural crops is a myth. As a matter of fact, they help cultivate the land with the mechanism explained earlier. Now, let us analyze the issue of springtail as a competitor of mammals.
Burrowing mammals such as moles are known to live underground. The soil is their habitat, and so are these springtails. However, we should make it clear that springtails do not disturb the existence of such living things. It is not true that they destroy their habitat and eat their food. What happens in reality is quite different. Springtails often become the mammals’ food; and not the other way around.
It is interesting to know the facts about springtails. More than its physical appearance and what Science tells us, it is imperative to know that their existence also bring benefits to our world.