These insects are very small, commonly between 1/16th- and 1/8th-inch long. They have moderate length antennae and are usually slender, elongate insects, although there is a group of springtails that is round and stout. Most springtails are dark-colored, brown, grey or black although some species are white, and some are even iridescent and brightly colored.
Springtails are wingless and do not fly but they can jump, using a specialized forked appendage called a furcula, located underneath the abdomen. When not in use, the furcula is tucked under the body, set like a mouse trap. When it is released, it extends down rapidly propelling the springtail forward, jumping up to several inches.
Springtails are one of the most common insects in the environment, although they are inconspicuous and are often overlooked. When suitable habitat occurs, they can develop tremendously large numbers and are one of the most abundant insects. You may find millions of springtails naturally in about 2.5 acres of land. Springtails can be a nuisance when they occur in and around homes and other buildings.
Springtails are associated with damp conditions and organic debris and are found outdoors in soil, leaf litter, lichen, under bark, decaying plant matter, rotting wood, and other areas of high moisture. They are found in many different habitats, feeding on fungi, pollen, algae, or decaying organic matter. Springtails are also commonly found in the soil of houseplants. However when conditions are suitable, you can also find springtails indoors, especially in bathrooms, basements, and kitchens.
Management and Treatment
There are several reasons why springtails may be found indoors. They are commonly found in areas of high moisture; e.g., around plumbing leaks, areas of condensation and damp basements.
If excessively moist conditions occur near a structure, that can encourage large numbers of springtails which may move indoors. High springtails numbers can be associated with mulch. It is also possible when it is excessively dry outdoors that springtails may move indoors to find moisture. Springtails can also be found in the soil of overwatered houseplants.
If you are finding just a small number of the critters, just ignore them or physically remove them by hand or with a vacuum. However, if you are seeing persistent number of them, they are associated with a moisture problem. The best management is to dry out these areas with a fan or dehumidifier, because springtails do not tolerate dry conditions. Also remove any wet wood, especially if it is moldy. Make any structural changes to correct the moisture problem.
If springtails are moving indoors from the outside, check around the house for moisture problems. This could include rainspouts that do not carry water far enough away from the foundation, landscapes that slope towards buildings, excessive irrigation, or non-functioning drainage systems around the building. It could even be a moisture problem with the roof. Correct existing moisture conditions to decrease the number of springtails. When necessary, remove or reduce the amount mulch that is around the foundation of your home. If you have a problem with them in houseplants, let the soil dry out and water less frequently but more deeply.
After you complete the recommendations above, this is where Scatter comes in to the rescue! In all those areas where you were seeing activity spray a light application of the Scatter solution. Remember to follow the label instructions included on the bottle of concentrate as part of your Scatter DIY kit. The product will work quickly if all of the above steps were first taken.
For Brown Recluses, professional services would be recommended. Scatter pesticides will kill them but will not be enough to provide satisfactory results. (Trust us!)