Do Springtails Die In The Winter?

You can often see a lot of springtails when winter comes to an end and the snow begins to thaw. But do springtails die in the winter, or are they just hiding under the snow? Let’s find out.

Springtails are one of the most common pests that you can find in all types of climates. You can find them in hot weather as well as during freezing winters.

Springtails have been found in the freezing temperatures of the arctic and in the deepest caves of the world in Georgia’s Krubera-Voronja cave system. They are one of the hardiest species on the planet.

Here are a few things to know for people who deal with springtail infestations or someone trying to cultivate them!

Do Springtails Die In The Winter

Do Springtails Survive in the Winter?

Collembola, more commonly known as Springtails, are insects that you can find in dark and damp places. Most springtails found in common indoor infestations can survive all year round as long as they have moist conditions favorable to their growth.

These insects are an essential part of the ecosystem that feed on organic matter and help in decomposing dead organic matter.

While the most favorable temperature for these arthropods is 65 to 85F, they can survive much more extreme weather. Studies have shown that the range of temperatures a species of springtails can survive depends on which area you find them in.

There are hundreds of species of springtails that grow and multiply in different weather conditions. Arctic species of springtails can survive cold temperatures as low as 15F.

Why Are Springtails Also Called Snow Fleas?

One species of springtail is also known as the snow flea (scientifically known as Hypogastrura nivicola). These springtails can survive extremely cold weather.

This species is easy to observe against the snow since they are colored black. They use the water in the ice to absorb the moisture they need to survive.

Like all springtails, they can also jump a distance much larger than their own length, giving them the appearance of fleas (hence the name snow fleas).

Despite the name, these creatures are not harmful and do not bite humans. They are highly active during winter and feed on leaf litter and other organic debris.

Globular Springtail

Are Springtails Only Active in the Winter?

Springtails can survive in any weather; it really depends on which species you are talking about.

If there is a springtail infestation in your house, it can occur during any weather. If you have potted plants or leaky pipes at home, it is an ideal environment for these pests to infest your home.

Species of Springtails That Can Survive Extreme Cold

Some species of springtails have evolved to adapt to extreme cold and freezing temperatures.

Hypogastrura viatica and Protaphorura macfadyeni are arctic species of springtails. They produce an anti-freeze protein that helps them survive the extremely low temperatures in the arctic region.

At sub-zero temperatures, the water content in our bodies cells can freeze over, which can lead to dehydration. The anti-freeze protein helps keep the water content in their cells liquid.

These springtails can survive even at 15F temperatures. These species can survive for nearly two weeks at such low temperatures.

Another arctic springtail species by the name of Megaphorura arctica exhibits a biochemical mechanism called cryoprotective dehydration. This is a rare mechanism that helps them survive extremely cold temperatures.

In this process, these creatures lose water through evaporation automatically when exposed to below-zero temperatures. This helps them avoid getting frozen over.

Springtails don’t hibernate. They just let themselves get frozen over, and then when the temperature is normal again, they spring back to life as though nothing had happened!

Globular Springtail

Frequently Asked Questions

At what temperature do springtails die?

Common household springtails can die if the temperature drops below 50F or rises above 95F. Arctic springtails can survive even sub-zero temperatures. In fact, more than temperature, it is the lack of moisture that can impact their survival. They perish easily if the humidity level drops below 30%.

How do you permanently get rid of springtails?

The best way to get rid of springtails is to eliminate their food source. You can do this by removing moisture inside the house and sealing up any cracks or crevices where they may be able to access food. Professional pest control companies can help with eliminating springtails in households.

Do springtails come back every year?

Springtails survive all year; they don’t need to come back. They can survive most temperatures as long as there is food and moisture for them.

They just sit in the soil and emerge when the temperatures start to warm up in the spring. Snow fleas emerge towards the end of winter when the snow starts to thaw.

Wrap Up

Springtails are harmless but unique creatures that have adapted to many different types of temperatures. Be it an area of damp soil or ice, they have found ways to survive that we can observe and learn from. If you are cultivating them, take your time to understand these creatures. Thank you for reading! 

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

3 thoughts on “Do Springtails Die In The Winter?”

  1. It’s probably adaptive for arthropods to be active in winter: migratory birds are gone, a lot of rodents are hibernating, other insects are dormant. Less chance of being eaten! You also see winter stoneflies on the snow, but not much else (at least here in the central Sierra Nevada).

    I wonder why more insects don’t do this?

    Reply
    • Maybe because there is precious little food for them? I wonder what they subsist on? My observation of these springtails (millions in Whistler) was that they crawl around on apparently pristine snow. Remarkable!

      Reply
  2. It’s probably adaptive for arthropods to be active in winter: migratory birds are gone, a lot of rodents are hibernating, other insects are dormant. Less chance of being eaten! You also see winter stoneflies on the snow, but not much else (at least here in the central Sierra Nevada).

    I wonder why more insects don’t do this?

    Reply

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