With the wet year we are having there are going to be many insect issues, one that has already come up is springtail infestations. Springtails look like tiny fleas; they are black, and they jump. However, springtails are not harmful. They do not bite people or pets, spread disease or damage homes or household items. Nevertheless, most people don’t want them in their homes. Their presence alone makes them pests! Unlike fleas they are soft bodied and will smash easily when you squeeze them.
As mentioned, they are also tiny, most are between 1 and 2 mm long.
The numbers of springtails rise and fall with fluctuations in temperature, moisture and food availability.
Springtails thrive in shady areas rich in decaying leaves and humus, but they can abound even in urban lawns.
A cubic foot of soil may harbor 10,000 individuals, with millions found in a single backyard. Common species are thought to reproduce several times each year. With such high reproductive rates, populations can increase quickly when weather is favorable.
Springtails will crawl up the sides of houses and enter them through gaps between bricks or around doors and windows, with hundreds of springtails suddenly appearing indoors.
Once inside a home, springtails usually die quickly from low humidity and lack of food, so they cannot be transferred from one house to another in boxes or on clothing. However, springtails can live a long time in indoor potted plants or infest buildings with high humidity.
This year’s high moisture and humidity are providing perfect conditions for growing large springtails populations.
To help control and/or keep them out of your home you can caulk all cracks or gaps that might provide openings for insects. However, this may not be enough this year.
Be sure to remove any mulch and dead or decaying plant material from around the edge of your home. Pesticide treatments around the foundation of you home for about 5 to 10’ out from the foundation of the house will also help.
Applying pesticides around any possible entry sites like doors, windows, dryer vents etc.… will also help. If you have a long-lasting indoor springtail issue, they will be living in potted plants, moist walls or storage areas. Remove the dampness and organic matter that is providing a home for the springtails.
You can either vacuum-up the springtails or spray them with a short-lived pyrethrin.