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A Springtail or Collembola issue came up recently. A Phoenix pest control customer with a severe case of springtails contacted me and went to her home to make a comprehensive inspection to see if we can alleviate the problem.

Adults and immature Springtails are generally 1/16th to 1/8th inch long and are gray or brown in color. They may be distinguished from other tiny insects because they have a projection or “tail” which they lock under their [Springtails_Invader] abdomen and release to “spring.” Springtails need high moisture in order to survive. Occasionally they build up in high numbers during wet years in irrigated areas. When this area dries up, they are attracted to the lights and moisture in yards, and may become severe nuisances in interiors.

As I always do, I like to prepare myself, before I go out on the inspection, so I pulled up information on the internet and found that I probably have better information than what I found available on the internet.

I like to look at Educational sites from entomology departments and cooperative extensions around the country because generally they have very good information produced by experts who study pests. However, I was surprised that I found a lot of out dated information that included advice on treatment with products that are no longer available or pulled from the market, as well as the home remedy advice that while simple may provide some temporary relief, such as a mixture of dishwashing liquid, vinegar or lemon juice to kill the pests in a environmentally friendly way. But there was little to no advice on getting to the source of the problem and much of the information was about exterior problems with springtails and a very limited amount of information on the interior of properties.

Based on the phone calls we receive at Invader Pest Management, it’s the problems on the inside of the house that get the phone’s ringing. People get frustrated with springtails because they are inside and everywhere!

So, let’s get to looking at this springtail issue: first of all whether inside or outside, springtails are a direct result of excessive moisture. So the first thing that I look for or a homeowner should look for is moisture. Of course, springtails are an introduced pest that could be brought into a home via potted plants, or a crack in the foundation, through open windows or exhaust fans and the infestation could and most certainly started outside. [springtail_under microscope] However, in most cases the customer is calling about the little bugs everywhere inside, in the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, etc… are you seeing a pattern here? Moisture areas, right? They almost always say they see them in the sinks or around the drains.

The answer to the first question we always get is NO. No we can’t spray pesticides down the drain! Now that being said, along with scrubbing drain pipes, we do have environmentally and pipe friendly bio-remediation products that we can utilize in drains and they have been found to help reduce springtail problems by eating the buildup of fungus, mildew and mold. However we have had some cases where that wasn’t enough, and generally we have found there to be other moisture problems than just the drains.

Springtails thrive in humid areas and so does their food source. Springtails eat molds, mildews and fungus than can develop in areas that retain moisture content. Unfortunately, many of these potential sites can go unseen for a long time, and the problem gets worse even though the customer has tried everything, even numerous pest control companies in some cases.

I know that in Phoenix, Arizona we joke that, “it’s a dry heat”, so why would there be such a humidity issue? Well, that all depends, but some simple factors are, irrigation leaks not being fixed, sprinklers systems spraying to close or on the house, leaf litter and debris under bushes and shrubs holding moisture to ground, vines and trees growing on or to close to the structure, rain gutters clogged with debris, potted plants with drip irrigation with no catch basins, etc… all these items and more could be creating a moisture problem around your structure which could be the perfect breeding zone for springtails. On the inside, pipe leaks, floor drains not properly draining, cracks in tiled showers/tubs allow seepage inside walls, and simple sweat on the bottom of a tub from temperature difference of hot water in tub and cool air under it could keep it damp under the tub.

Anyway, lots of stuff here, and I hope that you see that when it comes to controlling springtails, it’s all about controlling the humidity and the food sources. Yes, there are some pest control options however the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) options such as inspection, sanitation, moisture control, mechanical repairs to moisture issues are much more likely to solve the problem than simply trying to spray away the pest.

If you find that you have all these tiny bugs around your sinks, drains, tubs, showers and you are tired of having to live with them, call Invader Pest Management and we will be happy to put together an Invader IPM Program that will solve your pest problem, reduce the pesticides utilized around your properties, and guarantee you peace of mind, at least when it comes to Pests!!!