Occasional Invaders

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Springtail

springtail-bug-book

Color

Backs are dark gray to black, and abdomen is light gray. Head, antennae and legs have a reddish hue.

Characteristics

Springing into action, springtails use the forked structure attached under their abdomen to fly into the air, like fleas. Unlike fleas, they do not bite. They are wingless and humpbacked.

Where Found

They may seem to put on airs with their fancy spring tail, but are really one of the most primitive insects. They are primarily native to North America, but found almost everywhere.

Habitat

Springtails are used to extremely close quarters — up to 50,000 per cubic foot (0.03 cu m) That's a small personal bubble. They love moist outdoor locations, such as algae, fungi and decaying vegetables. Inside, they seek potted plants, floor drains, damp basements or crawl spaces. They are also fans of dried milk powder.

Food

Plants and other insectsƒincluding other crickets on occasion.

Biology

Females lay 150-400 eggs one at a time in firm, moist soil. Young crickets usually overwinter as eggs, but may also overwinter as mid to late-stage nymphs. There are 8-9 instars (stages) of nymphs. Total development from egg to adult takes about 80-90 days, and there are 1-3 generations per year.

Damage

Jiminy Cricket! They can do some serious damage. They are especially destructive to field and vegetation crops, such as wheat, oats, alfalfa, rye, tomatoes, cucumbers and beans. They can form huge swarms that ravage the Midwest and South. They can also chew through fabrics, such as wool, linen, cotton, silk, or man-made fibers, and even fur and leather. Soiled fabrics are especially vulnerable.

Invasion

Rest at ease; even if they do get into your house, they don't live long indoors. They can enter through small cracks and openings, but usually die by winter.

Good Riddance

One reason crickets are such pests is how noisy they are.

The reason for all this noise is that males chirp day and night to attract a mate. To combat an infestation, reduce the amount of un-mowed grass and weeds, and move woodpiles away from the building. Look for any entry points around windows, doors, and other openings, and seal. Install screens on windows and doors. Use a vacuum in lieu of a pesticide application.In some cases, cracks and crevices will also need to be treated. Registered baits work well if found in attics. Exterior applications of liquid residual pesticides, dusts or registered baits around the base of homes will contact the insect before they can enter. Repeated applications may be necessary over the summer months.