Springtails (Class: Collembola)

A photograph of the springtail _Isotoma habitus_ (Collembola, Isotomidae).

A photograph of the springtail Isotoma habitus
Photograph by Onychiurus, used under GFDL

Springtails are less than 5mm long, and often very much smaller - about the size of a full stop! They live in soil or leaf litter.

Their bodies are cylindrical and they possess a 'spring' mechanism (known as a furcula) on their abdomens. If disturbed they can set off this mechanism and launch themselves well away from a potential predator. The power of their leap has been likened to a man jumping as high as the Eiffel Tower!

They have short segmented antennae (never more than 6 segments) and may be brown or grey or mottled in colour. Their bodies are slightly hairy and the abdomen only has six segments. They have a ventral tube which is thought to be important for regulating their water intake, but it also helps them to stick to surfaces. In fact, the name Collembola comes from the Greek words kolla (meaning glue) and embolos (meaning peg).

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