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Springtails Podcast: Extras
Images courtesy of Louis Deharveng and Ari Daniel Shapiro
While many springtails live in soil and leaf litter, some of the estimated 6,000 known species have adapted to life in caves or near the ocean. See a gallery of images.
It’s easy to see why springtails are easily overlooked. Many are no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence.
Collembolids, as springtails are now known, may be among the most abundant six-legged creatures on the planet. There may be up to 250 million individual springtails per square acre.
Springtails get their common name from their habit of using their forked tail, or furcula, to fling themselves high into the air. It’s thought they do this to escape from predators. You can see a video of a springtail springing here. As David Attenborough says in this clip, their leaps are “the equivalent of a human leaping over the Eiffel tower.”
You can make a device called a Berlese funnel to separate tiny creatures from backyard soil. These instructions show how to make one out of a gallon plastic jug. Once the creatures are separated from the soil, you can look at them with a hand lens or microscope. Then learn how to share your finds with EOL and iNaturalist.org.