A Brief Kiss … And We Part Forever …

x1 image. Double click to enlarge.

These are Collembola (Springtails), and are 1 mm (3/64 in) long or less, and I observed them scurrying about on this plant leaf in the back garden until they came together for this moment. Despite the colour differences, they are both the same species, Deuterosminthurus pallipes, the purple is the nominal form, the yellow forma repandus. The couple lingered, antennae meeting, and then parted, each on a different path …

Getting Even Closer


Dicyrtomina saundersi

This is Dicyrtomina saundersi, a springtail, and boy do they jump if they feel threatened. This is an uncropped image. I have experimented with extension tubes for the first time ever this morning, and have found using the 36 mm tube in combination with my Raynox 250 they work pretty well. Normally I would have had to crop the image some to get closer.

The original image was 6000 x 4000 pixels but I have reduced it down to 2000 x 1333 pixels for internet use and have reduced the quality a little to bring down the file size.

Oh, and yes, I probably snapped this individual at an inopportune moment … but there you go in the world of photography.


Katiannidae genus nov.1. sp. nov.2


Katiannidae genus nov.1. sp. nov.2

You may be wondering what an earth this blog title means? Well, coincidently for me, this is another of those species which has yet to be given a proper name!


Katiannidae genus nov.1. sp. nov.2

This is a globular springtail of around 1.5-2 mm (around 5/64 in). It has to be the prettiest and perhaps the cutest I have seen, and has now become my favourite.


Katiannidae genus nov.1. sp. nov.2

It is believed to have been imported from Australasia and associated with the horticultural trade. That is all the information I have been able to gain so far regarding its origin. There is no knowing its status here in the UK, either.


Katiannidae genus nov.1. sp. nov.2

It appears to be fairly variable, and is seen in gardens and parks, and probably allotments and garden centres. I believe the bottom image may be a juvenile as it was smaller than the individuals above.


Katiannidae genus nov.1. sp. nov.2 juvenile

Cuter Than Cute – For A Bug


Dicyrtomina saundersi female juvenile

Dicyrtomina saundersi is its name, and not an insect (although previously considered to be) but a springtail. There is a kind of ‘spaceman’ like figure in the pattern towards the head, and a distinct dark barred patch towards the rear of the abdomen which helps separate it from similar species.


Dicyrtomina saundersi female juvenile

It looked directly up at me here … and appears to have kinda smiled, or may be it was a grimace?


Dicyrtomina saundersi female juvenile

This is a young one, a juvenile, and a female with the pale cheeks. It is around 2 mm (5/64 in) long.


Dicyrtomina saundersi female juvenile

Seen all year round under stones and bark in various habitats. A native species, and fairly common and widespread throughout Britain.


Dicyrtomina saundersi female juvenile

You can double-click images to enlarge once passed the advertising landing page.


Not A Bottle Cleaner


Orchesella villosa – Please do not mistake this for a bottle or pipe cleaner. It is a springtail, and boy do they spring when you uspet their day. At least this species has a nice short name. Amazing what you can find by just lifting a small plant pot. For more info on Springtails you can travel there via the link below. Please double-click both images to enlarge.


Collembola: The Springtails


Orchesella villosa

Orchesella villosa

© Peter Hillman ♦ 7th April 2020 ♦ Rear garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


The Odd


Orchesella cincta – This is another one of those tiny springtails I go on about in the odd post. I can’t help it, but I find them fascinating. This one has a nice yellow band around its third abdominal segment, and, quite unfortunately, one missing antenna. It’s amazing to think you have a whole little community living right under a plant pot and most of us don’t even know it. I don’t think this one quite realised the pot had gone. Double-click image to close in on it …


Orchesella cincta

© Peter Hillman ♦ 1st July 2017 ♦ Back garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Deuterosminthurus pallipes forma repandus


Warning: serious tongue twister here. Despite the very long name, it is a very small springtail which owns it. In this microcosmos even the fine leaf hairs can be an obstacle for it to negotiate. Less than 1mm long (3/64in) long, barely seen by the naked eye, but so very cute … in my eyes, anyway. It goes without saying – double-click image for a closer look.


Deuterosminthurus pallipes forma repandus

© Peter Hillman ♦ 11th March 2020 ♦ Back garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Less Than 1mm Long

Deuterosminthurus pallipes forma repandus
Deuterosminthurus pallipes forma repandus

Click and click again on the image to get that little bit closer …

These are barely visible with the naked eye. I only spotted them by closely looking at the leaves of my crabapple to see them scurrying over the surface, although they can occur on most vegetation. The fine hairs on the leaves must be like grass to them. Even with the Raynox 250 clipped to the end of my Sigma 105mm macro lens cranked up to the max magnification you still have to crop a fair bit to get close and see how cute these little springtails are. And they do have a spring in them too! This is the yellow form repandus. I have featured the rarer purple plum coloured one before, but you can have another look-see below.


June 2019, rear garden, South Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

When You’re Smiling

Orchesella villosa

No, this is not a bottle cleaner, but a tiny springtail called Orchesella villosa, which are part of our everday microfauna we don’t always see. Double click on the image to enlarge.

September 2017, discovered under an upturned stone, rear garden, Staffordshire, England.

Getting A Little Closer II

Orchesella villosa

Orchesella villosa is another springtail, but one of Britain’s largest growing up to 5mm (0.2in) long. It can leap a fair way, too, when it feels threatened, and I thought I had lost it a few times.

I would not have got this level of detail or this close with just the Sigma macro lens, even on its closest setting. With the Raydox DCR-250 clipped on the end it has added to my magnification, and combined with the external flash unit has given me more detail and clarity, where the eye, the bristles and the patterns of the springtail are fairly distinct. Again, being handheld, I had to stabalise my arms and hands by leaning on a wall to get this shot.


Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.


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

Getting A Little Closer

Deuterosminthurus pallipes

To get a little closer to this springtail means adding a Raynox DCR-250 conversion lens to the end of my Sigma 105mm macro lens, which came through the post via Amazon today. It has an adapter which will clip on the end of any lens with a filter size between 52mm to 67mm. Tricky to get the knack of at this close proximity, and ideally needs to be used via a tripod, but it is quite a sharp lens and I have managed these images handheld. I quite like the white X-shape on this springtail’s head which appears to mask around its eyes. This species is Deuterosminthurus pallipes, as far as I can determine, and I discovered it by just sitting on a garden chair and looking closely for movement on plant leaves. It is about 1mm (0.04in) long.

Deuterosminthurus pallipes

It appears to have found something tasty to eat, and this makes it easier to photograph as it has finally stopped moving.

Deuterosminthurus pallipes

Deuterosminthurus pallipes

Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.


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

Sitting With The Springtails II

Deuterosminthurus pallipes

Here we are again, sitting in the late afternoon sun, amongst some rather interesting friends. Some of them familiar, like the banana yellow Deuterosminthurus pallipes above, and some of them not so familiar like the plumb purple one below, which is the same species.

Deuterosminthurus pallipes

And further down we again have Entomobrya intermedia, just sitting there chilling, and the only one that kept still for me.

Entomobrya intermedia


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.

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.

 

The Hidden World beneath Our Feet

Spotted Wolf Spider Pardosa amentata spiderling
Spotted Wolf Spider (Pardosa amentata) spiderling. For scale compare the distorted S-shape just below it, which is slug poop

Beaneath our feet is a hidden world of wonder which many of us do not get to see. Yet it is there all the time. Earlier I lifted up a plant leaf that was trailing across a flagstone, a simple act, and peered beneath it. I entered ‘their’ world.

Tomocerus minor
Tomocerus minor, a springtail

Common Chrysalis Snail Lauria cylindracea
Common Chrysalis Snail (Lauria cylindracea) a snail I did not even know existed until today


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. June 2017.

Entomobrya intermedia

Entomobrya intermedia

Barely visible to the naked eye and with a length of 2mm, this springtail has distinctive purplish markings on its back, especially the crucial broken “U” on the large 4th abdominal segment, and the continuous “W” on the same segment, which helps to identify it compared to other similar species; but length of abdominal segments also need to be taken into account. Similar to E. nivalis, although there seems some disagreement amongst the experts whether E. intermedia and E. nivalis  are one and the same species but with variations in the markings.

They feed on leaf-litter and other dead plant matter. Found all year round living in leaf-litter and other plant detritus. Common and widespread throughout Great Britain.


March 2017, on old sundial, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2017.


To learn more about springtails please click on the image below:

Orchesella villosa
Orchesella villosa

 

Can You Spot The Beetle’s Friend?

Sminthurides aquaticus

Sminthurides aquaticus

This was one of those moments when you are focusing on snapping something and don’t realise you got more than you bargained for when opening it up on the PC monitor. It’s not the clearest of images, but below the beetle called Elaphrus riparius is a tiny yellowish and bluish globular springtail called Sminthurides aquaticus. It grows up to no more than 1mm in length.

The male has specially adapted clasping antennae which he uses to grasp the female during mating. They feed on micro-organisms found on decomposing organic material.

Frequently found on the surface of standing water like ponds. Common and widespread throughout the British Isles.

Photograph of Sminthurides aquaticus taken June 2013, local pond, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

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.