Order Collembola Springtails

Small, soft-bodied, wingless insects with mou-thparts endognathous and adapted primarily for biting; antennae usually 4-segmented; compound eyes absent; legs 4-segmented; abdomen 6-segmented, bearing a sucker-like ventral tube (collophore) on the first segment and usually a forked saltatory appendage (furcula) on the fourth (see Figs 14 and 15), with its retaining hook (retinaculum) on the third; no cerci, no Malpighian tubules and, usually, no tracheae. Metamorphosis slight; immature stages similar in appearance to adult, but smaller, with a constant number of segments throughout their development.


Fig. 14 A springtail - superfamily Entomobryoidea (xl5).


Fig. 14 A springtail - superfamily Entomobryoidea (xl5).

Fig. 15 A springtail, Sminthurus viridis - superfamily Symphypleona (x20).


Body more or less elongate, the thoracic and abdominal segments usually distinctly separated: head usually prognathous.


Pronotum very small, often invisible from above (Fig. 14); body often hairy and mottled with brown. Abundant insects in leaf litter, and assisting in its breakdown; no species are of pest status.

Superfamily PODUROIDEA

Pronotum well developed, setose and clearly visible from above; cuticle usually granular or tuberculate.

1. Family HYPOGASTRURIDAE (p. 87)

Springtails with biting mouthparts; head obliquely prognathous; pseudocelli absent.

EXAMPLE: Hypogastrura spp. (gunpowder-mites).

2. Family ONYCHIURIDAE (p. 87 et seq.)

Soil-inhabiting springtails with biting mouth-parts; ocelli absent but antennae with complex sensory organs and pseudocelli present on the thoracic and abdominal tergites; no saltatory appendage. Onychiurids feed mainly on the roots of plants but some species are predators of nematodes.

EXAMPLE: Onychiurus spp. (white blind springtails).


Body more or less globular, the thoracic and first four abdominal segments fused together (Fig. 15); head hypognathous, with mouthparts directed ventrally.

3. Family SMINTHURIDAE (p. 88 et seq.) EXAMPLES: Bourletiella hortensis (garden springtail); Sminthurus viridis (lucerne-flea).

Antennae long, never shorter than head, and typically geniculate between the third and fourth segments; ocelli present.

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