Springtails are very small insects that can cause quite a surprise when you first see them. These insects get their name because they have a body part that acts as a spring causing them to suddenly jump more than 10 cm! Naturally, this ability can make them somewhat hard to catch or even to realize what they are at first. If you see a small insect that is moving very fast, there is a good chance it is a common springtail which is also sometimes known as a snow flea.
Reduce Mold and Fungus
The springtail feeds on molds and fungus, so if you have areas that have a lot of this going on you are a prime candidate for having a larger than you would like population of springtails to deal with. Damp areas that have been subject to moisture damage are a great place to find springtails.
Mold and fungus can also attract fungus gnats that can cause you some frustration as well, so getting rid of the mold and fungus is going to make your living areas a lot more hospitable to you and your family.
Springtails Don’t Bite
There is little to fear from springtails. You don’t have to worry about any bites or irritation. This is important to remember when coming up with solutions or if you are feeling overwhelmed because you have so many around your home.
Populations Can Sky Rocket in No Time
Springtails are very prolific. You may find that you have thousands of them in one spot. This can seem like a huge problem to deal with especially if it is near space you use a lot. When you have so many bugs jumping around it can look like you are in for the infestation of the century.
Look for Water Flow and Add/Fix Drainage
If you have never really thought about where the moist spots are, or the water flow is occurring on your property, now is the time. Water is critical to springtails. If they are causing you so much of a problem, then it could be a sign that you do not have good drainage in your area. Drainage can often be improved, but not always as much as we would want.
Perforated drainage pipe typically comes in 4” diameter but can be larger. You can get some that has a sleeve to keep dirt and debris out of the inner pipe. This pipe can be covered back over with dirt, but it provides better drainage when gravel or landscape stone is used on top. Digging drainage ditches is a lot of work so if you want to do a large area, you should either rent a machine to dig trenches or pay a professional to install the drainage for you. This will also reduce other water hungry insects and help prevent decay in and around your home.
Poorly lit locations are the most likely place to have a springtail population. If you are struggling with them, then you should consider adding brighter light bulbs or more lamps or fixtures to your home. Adding lights that just plug in is easier than hard wiring lights and a better solution for renters.
Special Considerations For Renters
Springtails are often a sign of water intrusion and other maintenance issues that are the responsibility of who you are renting from. If you cannot seem to get rid of them easily yourself, then you should let them know. A good landlord might be glad to know just in case it is water damage that could lead to a lot of future repairs if it is not fixed in time. A pyrethrin spray is organic and is usually all that is needed to control a springtail problem within a home or apartment.
Soap and Water
Soap and water mixed will drown springtails. If you have a few in your kitchen or bathroom, then this is often the best solution. This also brings up the fact that you will want to keep water contained in your bathroom. If your kids are leaving a lot of standing water anywhere or you are in the habit of doing this yourself then now is the time to get into better habits. Keep a sponge mop or some good bath mats out to control water. Water also attracts dirt and grime that creates a better habitat for springtails and other pests to congregate.
Vinegar is very acidic, so if you spray it on a springtail, it will kill them. You can use the cheapest vinegar to do this to save money. This is not a project to waste you fancy vinegar on. Put it in a spray bottle or if you have a lot of springtails in a tub or toilet, you can just pour it in.
Bleach is harsh, so you need to exercise some caution when using it, especially if you are putting it in a drain. Pouring too much bleach down a drain can lead to problems with septic systems that can be a real hassle to fix. Only use a bleach solution if you have nothing else or a major problem with springtails that you have to take care of right then.
Assess Ventilation in Your Home
If you have poor ventilation in your home, then the temperatures may be contributing to a moisture problem. Keeping your home a bit cooler will help prevent this. You can improve ventilation by adding fans around your home. If you have a central air and heating system, it is imperative that you change out your air filter regularly. Just because you bought a 60-day air filter doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work better if you changed it out every month.
You can also upgrade your air filter if you are using the very cheap ones. A better filter gets rid of more allergens and microbes. Changing out filters is usually pretty easy. It is best to set a reminder to change your filter monthly, or you will probably forget about. You would be amazed how many people don’t change their filters more than a few times a year and complain about air quality!
Springtails Are a Sign of Other Issues
One of the most important takeaway lessons is that if you see a lot of springtails and they return even after you treat your home for them, you need to assess the drainage around your home. Here are some steps for finding moisture issues.
Get a UV Flashlight
A black light that is portable is often used to check holograms on ID cards, but it is also very useful for finding moisture. You should shine this on your plumbing to check for leaks. Even a small leak can cause a lot of moisture issues throughout the year, and they usually get worse.
This can take some time but is well worth it if you want to make your home a better place to live and not deal with insect and moisture issues all the time. The sooner leaks are fixed the better and the less money you will have to spend overall.
Mark Moist Spots
If you cannot monitor your progress easily then how are you going to know when you have resolved the moisture problem? Use some method of marking. It doesn’t matter what as long as it works for you. Just make sure to use something that will hold up to some level of water or moisture.
If you suddenly step in your yard and it is mushy, then you have to ask yourself why? Sometimes underground water sources change course or rodents can create tunnels. You could also have leaks in your water lines from tree roots or something like that.
Decaying wood in your yard is perfect for springtails so even if the wood hasn’t been there a long time, get rid of it before it rains and decays more.
Teach Kids to Not Be Afraid
A lot of insects jumping around can be frightening for children who are one reason a lot of adults want to get rid of them immediately. At the same time, it is important to let kids know that springtails cannot bite or anything like that. They can get in eyes and on clothes, and that is about it.
Cold Temperatures Is Not Enough to Kill Them
In some ways, springtails are tough little guys. You can see them in cold moving water sometimes and it doesn’t seem to have any impact on them so getting a space really cold is not going to solve your springtail issue. This is one reason they are known as “snow fleas”. Cold may help with some other insects, but it is usually too challenging to get your home that cold because bugs and insects can hide in all kinds of warmer spaces in your home.
Outdoor Control Is More Important Than Indoor
Springtails thrive outside, so this is where you need to take them on first. If they are not allowed to do well outside, then they are far less likely to get into your home. This also means that choosing organic methods of pest control are preferable to avoid any issues with aquatic life, birds, and mammals around you. Populations come and go and are usually very manageable. You should be glad if this is the only insect you have to deal with regularly.
You are going to have to treat for springtails more than once. Almost any insect population is impossible to control with just a single treatment, especially if you are using methods that are not extremely harsh and harmful to the environment. The sooner you start taking control of the situation the sooner you will be able to get on with your life.
If you choose chemical pest control, you can use lawn granules that are spread using a push style fertilizer spreader or a small hand spreader that helps you distribute the granules more easily. There is a brand called BiFen Granules that you can apply once per month around the foundation of your home. This gives you a zone around your home that stays springtail free.
This is a lot of work in some ways, but will help if you are having a real problem, especially if you cannot do much about moisture levels around your home. This isn’t a cheap treatment either at $15 per month for the standard home plus the labor involved with actually spreading them.
If you like keeping a lot of landscaping around your foundation that requires mulch and other decaying matter, then the granules may help you be able to achieve this without getting rid of mulch entirely. Granules are water resistant so they will last the full month if you apply them as directed.
Calling in the Pros
Some people report that pest control services are not the best solution for springtails in any case. There have been plenty of people who hire exterminators several times just to see springtails return. Getting rid of springtails requires consistency and multiple different strategies.
Some of these strategies are simply having good home maintenance. If you rent, you may be afraid to bring this subject up with your landlord, but it is best if you do. Moisture issues can lead to mold and allergens that are bad for your health and well being. Professional pest control can solve this problem temporarily but the underlying issues need to be fixed for long-term success.
If you are suddenly overrun with insects, then a professional may be in order but try not to be too hasty and try a few remedies yourself before making a decision that could cost you a bit and not necessarily give you the results you want.