Subject:  Thought it was puddles of clay, but….
Geographic location of the bug:  Western North Carolina
Date: 01/11/2018
Time: 02:59 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  After rains, between Oct. and at current time (Jan) small pools of fine red clay are actually quite alive Under magnifier …  what are these things!!!
How you want your letter signed:  Paul Josefson

Springtail Aggregation

Dear Paul,
This is an aggregation of Springtails, the most common hexapod on our planet.  When conditions are correct, often after periods of rain, they reproduce quickly and form large aggregations.  According to the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee website:  “Springtails are not insects, but they do have six legs, and older insect books list them as primitive, wingless insects. Most of the ‘for-public-consumption’ Extension/Exterminator websites call them insects because it’s easier than explaining who they really are—members of the ancient class Collembola, which probably evolved alongside insects. There are springtail fossils dating back 400 million years (they don’t fossilize easily, but they sometimes show up in amber), and if they were insects, they’d be the oldest insect fossils known. They’re not fleas, though some are called ‘snow fleas’ and ‘springtail flea’ is a regional common name.”  The site also states:  “Springtails can be profoundly social, and they use aggregation pheromones to summon a crowd.  If one springtail finds a good, damp spot, they’re all there. Their development is ametabolous—they just grow without changing shape or rearranging body structures and are adults at their fifth molt. Springtails continue to molt throughout their lives, and they’re most sensitive to desiccation while molting.” 

Thank you….I feel much better knowing that I am not being invaded by an alien race of micro beings!

Location: North Carolina

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