Sitting With The Springtails

Deuterosminthurus pallipes

Just sitting in the garden, looking and listening, so much life going on around me. I look down and focus, and see movement on the plants below. I could not tell what they were with the naked eye, they were so small, but they were alive and moving.

Deuterosminthurus pallipes

Through the lens of my camera I could see the above creature was a bright yellow springtail, quite a cute critter, with big cartoony eyes. I had never seen this one before, and he or she was very busy moving around the leaf. I later identified it as Deuterosminthurus pallipes. They grow up to 1mm (0.04in) long, and apparently they like to dance before mating. They also come in purple, and when the yellow ones and purple ones mate their off spring is yellow or purple, nothing in between.

Entomobrya intermedia

Directly above is another springtail called Entomobrya intermedia, which is slightly longer at 2mm (0.08in).

This is extreme macro and well beyond the capabilities of my macro lens. To get closer to these you need extension tubes, I guess.

Please click on an image for a larger more detailed view. Clicking a second time may get you a little closer.

Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.


Rock Springtail

Anurida maritima

A bluish-grey springtail with 3 thoracic segments and 6 abdominal segments. It has 3 pairs of legs. The entire body is covered with white hydrophobic hairs which allow it to stay above the surface of the water on which it spends much of its life. The Rock Springtail cannot leap like other springtails. Length 3mm.

They feed on dead and decaying organic material, especially dead animals. Found on intertidal rocky shorelines, often in rock pools, often in large clusters. Common and widespread on all British coasts, and often abundant.

For more information on these fascinating invertebrates please visit my ‘What Are Springtails?’ link.

Photograph  taken of Rock Springtail (Anurida maritima) in April 2014, Llandudno, Wales. © Pete Hillman 2014. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Orchesella cincta

This springtail has a distinctive yellowish band across the third abdominal segment. Length 4mm.

They feed on plant detritus. Seen all year round, and live in various habitats, under rocks and stones. Common and widespread throughout the British Isles.

Photograph taken July 2015, rear garden, Staffordshire.

Tomocerus minor

I found this curious, tiny critter under a stone I lifted in my back garden. This springtail has a uniform purplish iridescence. Length up to 4.5mm.

They feed on plant detritus.

They are seen all year round, and are found in damp and shady places like under logs and stones, and amongst leaf litter. Very common and widespread throughout Britain.

Photographs taken June 2015, Staffordshire.