Spring tail bugs

Asked August 26, 2013, 9:37 AM EDT

I have an infestion of spring tail bugs. We have tried many products and we can't get rid of them. They are also in house and in my bed. Any suggestions?

Lincoln County South Dakota

3 Responses

Springtails---Order Collembola---are permanently wingless creatures either considered as insects or close relatives of insects. They are just visible to the naked eye. If they are seen, they may crawl around on various surfaces but they can jump incredible distances when disturbed. The ability to jump comes from a jointed fork-like structure on the end. If that's what we're talking about here, moisture control is the key to success. Insecticides are likely not going to be that useful.

Springtails are probably the most numerous arthropod in a cubic foot of soil, particularly soil with any organic matter in it. Very finely divided organic matter---including fungi, bacteria, spores, etc.---constitute food. They must have moisture to survive---not wet conditions or leaky ones or drippy ones---humidity can be good enough in most cases. Control the humidity and that should take care of at least some of your problems.

If you are noticing more springtails in one part of the house---say the bathroom---there could be a moisture issue that needs further investigation. A small leak in a pipe, settling of the house, a crack in a drain line or too much humidity following showers, baths---or maybe doing the laundry in a neighboring room---could be creating a situation that permits the little critters to survive. Venting that room more effectively, circulating the air, etc.---could be the answer to the problem. If the vent isn't working or the fan associated with that room is kaput, those repairs might be in order.

There's really nothing for these creatures to eat in the house. They are not stored product pests or wood borers or closet pests. A napkin or paper towel sprayed with your favorite counter cleaner will have the desired results of removing the pests while cleaning the surfaces.

Why these would be in your bed is the $64 question. Catch some of these and take them to your local Extension office for identification. Bed bugs can be in your bed, for sure. But springtails? You wouldn't have a water bed with a leak in it?

I live in a brand new house with no basement and no water leaks anywhere. I also don't have a waterbed.

Sioux Falls no longer has an extension office. I will proceed with exterminator.

Still sounds like a moisture issue---particularly in a brand new house. That isn't uncommon here either and we're in a desert.