Springtails are the cleanup crew of nature. They eat dead vegetation, bacteria, fungus, and a lot more. But do springtails eat mold too? The answer is yes, they do. Learn more in the blog below.
You probably already have many springtails in and around your surroundings, such as in the backyard, kitchen garden, and even in your house.
You might never have seen them, but they are there, gently munching away on many things, such as dead plant materials, organic matter, decaying wood, and mold.
Yes, you read that right – springtails can eat mold. Mold is a major problem in many American homes, and it can cause severe allergies, itchy and runny noses, headaches, and a lot more.
Are you interested to know how to use springtails to get rid of mold? Read on to find out more.
Do Springtails Eat Mold?
Yes, among the many things that springtails feed on, they also eat mold. By eating mold, these insects help to fertilize the soil and keep your home safe.
Springtails usually feed on slime molds. In fact, if you leave out food for springtails, they won’t eat it – they will wait for mold to settle on it and munch on it then!
Springtails belong to the Entomobrya genus of the Entomobryidae family. This family of insects has internal mouthparts that can eat bacteria and fungi off any surface they are on.
How To Use Springtails As Mold Control?
If you have a bioactive terrarium or a paludarium, you may have encountered a common problem in these environments – mold. Mold grows in any damp place, so these places are constantly getting mold.
But this is where you can bring springtails into the picture. Firstly, you have to collect a few springtails or else buy them from the market.
You will need to let them grow for some time in an amenable environment so that you have a large enough population to help you in your job.
Once you are ready, you can introduce them to your terrarium. Springtails will start consuming all the mold from your terrarium immediately.
One good thing is the springtails can self-regulate their population in a closed terrarium; you don’t have to find ways to get rid of them once they complete the job.
When there is enough mold to go around, springtails will quickly lay eggs and multiply. When the molds reduce, many springtails will die due to a lack of food.
However, these dead carcasses become an excellent food source for the remaining springtails, so some of them can survive. Over time, when the mold grows back, the springtails are still there, waiting patiently.
What Do Springtails Eat Other Than Mold?
Other than mold, springtails also eat bacteria, fungi, algae, lichens, and decaying vegetation. They are basically the cleanup crew of nature.
Springtails love to be in moist environments. They thrive in leaf litter, dead plants, soil, decaying wood, terrariums, paludariums, and even aquariums.
How To Use Springtails
So now that you know that these creatures can be very useful, you would be itching to find out how you can use them, right?
Well, you need to know the basics of housing and feeding them before you let them loose in your house. So let’s talk a bit about these aspects.
When housing springtails, it is important to avoid other predatory pests that can eat them.
Keep them in a container such as a plastic shoebox. Make sure the container is not completely airtight because they will need oxygen to live.
Fill it out with soil and about a liter of water. Open the lid twice a week (apart from the times you feed them) to let in enough oxygen.
Keep the container in a cool and damp space that does not let direct sunlight shine upon it. Direct sunlight is bad for springtails. Let the container be at room temperature.
Lastly, don’t mix up the container with other pests or insects like thrips. Springtails proliferate quicker when it is just them around.
It would be best if you fed your springtails in small but regular doses. While they love to eat mold, but they also need an additional food source.
Avoid feeding fish food because fish food is also attractive to mites. Here’s what you can feed your springtail culture:
Yeast is an excellent supplemental food for springtails. Sprinkle small amounts of yeast two to three times a week. You can increase the amount as the number of springtails in the ecosystem grows.
Adding in a few grains of brown or white rice is another good option. The rice will eventually develop mold, which is also a great food source for springtails.
However, keep a regular monitor on the rice grains, and replenish the culture when you don’t see many of them left.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do springtails eat black mold?
Like other molds, springtails are also likely to feed on black mold. However, black molds may be poisonous, and you should ideally remove them immediately if you have any of them in your house.
Springtail might take a while to finish it off. You can use chemicals or baking soda and vinegar to remove black mold.
Do springtails eat fungus?
Yes, springtails feed on fungi. Fungal hyphae and spores are like a staple diet for springtails. They also help to carry beneficial fungi near plant roots, which fertilize the soil around them. Apart from fungi, they also eat bacteria, algae, lichens, and dead vegetation.
What eats mold in a terrarium?
Mold grows on organic matter. Ecosystems such as terrariums and paludariums are full of organic matter, so mold can easily develop in these places.
What do springtails need to survive?
Most springtails need moisture to survive, which is why they prefer wet environments such as watered soil and potted plants that you regularly water.
If you are growing a culture of springtails, you should add a little bit of brown rice or yeast flakes every few weeks which will help the springtails survive.
To sum things up, yes, springtails eat molds, and if you have a terrarium or paludarium, springtails are a natural and easy way to control molds in these ecosystems.
You just need to feed them a few yeast flakes or some rice every few weeks, and they will do the rest for you.
Over the years, our readers have sent us several emails on this topic. Please go through them below!
Letter 1 – Springtails
Tiny red specks
This winter has been exceptionally warm in the Atlanta, Georgia USA area, so some bugs may be hatching out of season. This morning I looked outside to see my back cement patio covered in what I thought was a fine mist of water…millions of tiny specks. Then I noticed that the rug at the back door had a small red pile on it as if someone had spilled half a bottle of paprika or chili powder….I looked closer to notice that it was moving – these little specks were tiny insects – so tiny that I couldn’t see any legs. They couldn’t have been any bigger than a grain of salt but there were literally millions of them. They were a rusty-red color. Any idea what they were? I didn’t get a picture because I was afraid my dogs would track them into the house so I hosed them off of the back patio immediately. Oh yeah, one more thing I forgot about – the bugs jumped like fleas…maybe they WERE fleas but I’ve never seen any that tiny and have never seen a pile of them like that.
The jumping and aggregation leads us to believe you have Springtails.
Thanks for the quick response- today (just a few minutes ago, actually) I went out and looked for them and found just a couple of them crawling around – again, these are so tiny – about the size of a pinhead…maybe smaller. I was able to get some pictures. I had to put a magnifying glass in front of my camera because even my camera’s macro mode wasn’t good enough to get a picture. Do these look like springtails (images attached)?
Hi again Blaine,
This is definitely a photo of a Springtail. .
Letter 2 – Springtails
What’s those bugs on top of the springtails?
Location: Tonasket, WA, or… MY BACKYARD! HAHAHAH
March 25, 2011 9:39 pm
I know, it’s annoying when the location is ”My backyard/car/house”, yet it makes me laugh every time I see it. And I wasn’t embarrassed enough to change the picture title once I figured out they were springtails. I hope the legs, segments and antenna come thru for you. I’m thinking babies floating on a raft of adults! They definately move and squirm, and they didn’t appear to be eating the purple ones. It’s been in the mid 40’s/day and high 20’s/low 30’s at night. They are in a wanna-be-bird bath somebody tried to make, really just a 1/2 gallon or so of water. Lots of leaves in the bottom. Please crop and blow up whichever one is best for you, because I know you can do it better! Thank you for all the delight, education and beauty your dedication gives to all of us!
We are happy to hear that our sometime ornery responses to people have amused you. We agree that you have discovered a mass of Springtails, but trying to identify Springtails beyond the class Collembola is a challenge for us. We believe your specimens are probably in the order Poduromorpha based on photos posted to BugGuide, though BugGuide does not have any photographs that illustrate the light and dark individuals that your photograph clearly represents. Our best guess is that these are all the same species of Springtail in the famly Hypogastruridae (see BugGuide), but that the freshly molted individuals are lighter in color. Perhaps one of our readers will be able to add to that explanation or dispute it.
Letter 3 – Springtails
What are These Larvae?
Can you please tell me what these are? They appeared overnight, gathered like bubbles in little puddles, on my stone walk after a rain. Are they something that needs immediate attention? There are so many of them! I have cats who like to drink from the puddles, if I let them. Are they a major pest? How can I get rid of them? Thank you,
Camarillo, CA USA
These insects are adult Springtails in the order Collembola. Springtails are minute numerous insects that are found in conjunction with moisture. They can get very plentiful. They will not harm your cat.
Letter 4 – Springtails
These springtails were in a water dish in my hermit crab tank. They maybe still in the larva stage and thought you’d enjoy the image.
What a wonderful and artful photograph. We are thrilled to post it.
Letter 5 – Snow Fleas, AKA Springtails
Subject: Termite alates?
Location: Southern Vermont
March 11, 2015 6:20 am
Dear Mr. Bugman,
I just returned from traveling the past week to find a swarm of these small, wingless insects on my firewood stack. It’s been relatively warm (in the 30s to 40s) and wet here the past week. I’ve been trying to identify them. They look like de-winged subterranean termite swarmers, but they’re tiny! (1st pic.) The section of my finger showing is one inch long at most (2nd pic), so I’d say these little fellas are a couple mm long at most. They’re also just hanging out all over certain sections of the walls of my shed (3rd pic). Curious to hear your thoughts.
Thank you very much!
This would have been an easy identification for us even without your excellent close up image, and we are thrilled to be able to post a nice quality image of a single Springtail. Springtails are arguably the world’s most common hexapods, and they are benign creatures, though they can become a nuisance when conditions are favorable and their populations swell.
Thank you very much for your help, and I’m very glad to hear you enjoyed my photo! (I took it through a hand lens, which evidently works.) I didn’t notice this before I e-mailed you, but after being outside more I can see that they are *everywhere*. I can understand why they’re known as snow fleas.
Letter 6 – Springtails
Subject: Small white bugs in garden
April 25, 2015 11:22 am
These seem to have arrived with a bag of compost. Are they useful or harmful?
These are Springtails, common benign primitive insects that are beneficial in the garden where they help to break down organic matter.
Letter 7 – Springtails
Subject: Small, slow bugs
Location: lancaster, pa
May 1, 2015 6:37 am
We recently found these bugs on some old railroad ties that border a large tree in in our backyard. Both the tree and the wood they are on have been there for MANY years and this is the first we have seen them. They are small and VERY slow moving. We live in Lancaster, PA and it’s early spring so the temperatures are mild/moderate. Any idea?
Signature: Danielle DeGroft
You have benign Springtails, common creatures that generally escape notice unless they are aggregating in large numbers. Springtails will proliferate when damp conditions are favorable, and though they are no cause for alarm, they can be a nuisance when they are numerous.
Letter 8 – Springtails
Subject: Need help with identifiyng bug
Geographic location of the bug: California
Time: 05:51 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hello, we have an issue with this little bug all over our yard. They mostly hide in dark areas like under leaves , wood what ever they can find. They are now starting to come into the house and they jump all over and are very tiny. They do not seem to bite however I’m not 100% sure.
How you want your letter signed: Justin
These are benign Springtails in the order Collembola, and they are arguably the most common creatures on land. When conditions are favorable (generally damp conditions) they can get so numerous as to be a nuisance, but they pose no threat to humans. In our opinion and the opinion of many, they are actually beneficial because they help to break down rotting organic matter so that it can be incorporated into fertile soil.
Letter 9 – Springtails in Tanzania
Location: Amani Nature Reserve, Northeast Tanzania
May 26, 2011 8:56 am
These little guys have taken over the forest floor in the last week or two. It’s about two months into the rainy season here, and these tiny white insects have appeared all over the forest floor. They’re almost exclusively on dead plant matter (leaves, logs, dead tree trunks), and it is difficult to convey just how many of these things are out there. I would say that there are several for every dead leaf in the forest. In some areas I don’t see any, in most areas they’re around, and on some leaves or logs they reach remarkable densities.
You sure know how to catch our attention with a subject line. These are Springtails, generally considered the most numerous hexapods on the planet. They are important because they help break down organic matter into humus.
We love your entire series of photos which establish the scene, demonstrate scale, and finally, provide a revealing close-up.
Letter 1 – Elongate Bodied Springtails
Small nearly microscopic bugs in my plant
January 21, 2010
I live in New Hampshire, USA. It’s currently January 21,2010. I have an Ivy plant that was getting unruly and part of it started to die so I cut it back. When I watered the plant, I noticed that there seemed to be thousands of very tiny bugs coming out of the soil in the pot. These little bugs are so small they can barely be seen by the naked eye. Once the water was absorbed by the soil, most of the bugs went back into the soil. There is wood and compost inside the soil that was used to pot the plant. I would like to know what kind of bugs they are? Are they dangerous to my kids and pet? Will they eat my house down? And if they shouldn’t be in the house, how to I get rid of them? I have attached some pictures of the plant and the bugs. You may have to blow t he pics up a little to get a goo look. The pics were taken using a macro lens to get a good look. It was very hard to catch one standing still long enough to get a pic at all. Any help you can provide will be appreciated. Thanks.
New Hampshire, USA, indoors
We believe you have benign Elongate Bodied Springtails in the order Entomobryomorpha. These common primitive insects have a worldwide distribution and they help organic materials in soil to be converted into humus. You can compare your insects to images on BugGuide.
Letter 2 – Elongate Bodied Springtail
tiny bugs all over the yards and in the house
May 2, 2010
First there were tiny bugs everywhere in the front yard and yards nearby, now they’re on the floor walls and ceiling of house, mostly kitchen. Spreading like crazy.
San Diego Ca.
This is a Springtail, and they are believed to be the most numerous hexapod (six legged arthropods including the true insects) on the face of the earth. They are in the class Collembola, and they are primitive creatures that were originally considered in the class Insecta. According to BugGuide, it is estimated that there are over 250,000,000 individual Springtails per acre, so if you couldn’t find any, it might be cause for concern. According to the North Carolina State University website, “They live in a variety of habitats where they feed as scavengers on decaying vegetation and soil fungi. “ The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences website indicates: “They occur in large numbers in moist soil and are found in homes with high humidity, organic debris, or mold. Homeowners sometimes discover these insects in large numbers in swimming pools, potted plants, or in moist soil and mulch.” Other than being a nuisance because of large numbers, Springtails are benign creatures, but their presence in large numbers in your kitchen may be symptomatic of an underlying mold problem. The University of Florida website also indicates: “Springtails are pests due to their large numbers. They do not bite nor transmit diseases. They can easily climb the sides of houses and are attracted to lights. They can also be brought into homes in the soil of otted plants. Overwatering encourages springtail propogation. Homeowners may first encounter springtails inside the home. The insects invade buildings in times of dry weather or heavy rains. They may also breed indoors with high levels of humidity that occur near leaks and cracks to the exterior. Because of their attraction to lights, they may enter homes lured by light shining through cracks under doors and windows.“ The website offers this advice for control: “Springtails cause no problems inside the house. They are so small that they can’t really be removed with a dustpan and broom. But they can be knocked down by misting the areas where they occur with some dishwashing soap in water (about 1%). Sometimes, springtails are brought into the house on potted plants. Check plants for springtail activity before bringing them into the house. If springtails are active, let the soil dry outside for several days before bringing the plant indoors. Do not overwater plants inside the house. Sometimes, springtails enter the house through small cracks and crevices, under doors, or through windows. Seal cracks and crevices with caulk. Weather strip around doors and windows. This will not only seal access of springtails from the outside but will also keep humidity and moisture out of the house. This all will help control springtails.”
Letter 3 – Elongate Bodied Springtail
Subject: Bugs around my cabin and on fire wood
Location: Conception bay,Newfoundland
October 31, 2013 6:19 pm
Hi, I’ve noticed this little bug around my cabin on the plywood and on the firewood outside of the cabin, I’m located in Newfoundland , on the Avalon, conception Bay Area. Any idea as to what it is? The biggest one I’ve seen so far is about 3/8” long, and they jump also if disturbed. Lol
First we want to apologize for the tardy response, but our small staff cannot respond to all the mail we receive during busy months. Also, we were away from the office when your request arrived. As we are preparing for a week in the frigid midwest next week, we are going through old requests to find beautiful images or interesting submissions to go live in our absence. This is unusual for us because this is a Springtail, but it is a very large Springtail. We believe it is an Elongate Bodied Springtail in the genus Pogonognathellus and you can compare your photos to the images on BugGuide. Springtails are primitive hexapods and they help to break down organic matter, so they are beneficial. At times, they can become plentiful, so they become a nuisance, but they are benign creatures.
Letter 4 – Elongate Bodied Springtail
Subject: what is this??
April 19, 2015 4:18 pm
Hello, we noticed these little bugs a couple of years ago. I thought they were silverfish, but I’m not sure! We had the house sprayed by a professional 3 times! We recently moved, and now they are at our new home!
This is an Elongate Bodied Springtail, a common and benign creature that prefers damp habitat. According to BugGuide: “Often found indoors, especially in moist or damp situations such as basins, sinks, tubs, showers, potting soil of houseplants, and windowsills where condensation has accumulated.” Though they might be a nuisance if they are plentiful, they will not harm you or your home, and we would recommend ignoring them.
Letter 5 – Elongate Bodied Springtail, possibly
Subject: A tiny bug that bites and moves onthe body
Location: Arequipa, Peru (South America)
March 8, 2016 9:27 pm
I am fighting with a tiny bugs that bites and moves on all ove my body but moves more on the lower part and that is irritating, they more active at night I cleaned everything many times in detail even put my home stuff like furniturer, clothes, bed sheets, blankets, carpets etc. in sunlight almost for a week and washed they properly but nothing.
I live with my wife son and sister but most interesting thing is they dont feel anything e even i have shown them many times alive and moving and have a clear video where we can see them moving in wash bason wash bason because its white and I wanted them to see them clearly with a better plain background.
Here I am attaching a photo for the reference and I really want to know what is that bug.
Thanks and Kind Regards
Signature: Micro Bug biting
Though the quality of your image is not ideal, we believe this is an Elongate Bodied Springtail. Based on information we have read, they are considered benign and they do not bite, however, we do have a robust network of commenters on our site regarding a posting Unknown Parasites, and at least one commenter claims that Springtails in the order Collembola are the source of the problem. Finally, according to Headlice.org: “A 1955 report to the medical literature, apparently overlooked or ignored, sheds new light on the problem and the National Pediculosis Association’s (NPA) efforts to alert the medical community and public health officials to the ability of Collembola to infest or colonize humans.”
Letter 6 – Elongate Bodied Springtails
Subject: Big on my Chicken Coop
May 3, 2016 6:47 pm
I live in southern Ohio and have been seeing these small bugs all over my chicken coop. They do not seem to bother the chickens. Just wondering what this bug is.
Signature: Thank you!
Though they have six legs, primitive Springtails are classified independently from Insects into the class Collembola. As you observed, they are benign creatures that can become a nuisance if they get plentiful when conditions are favorable. According to BugGuide: “Springtails are ‘decomposers’ that thrive mostly on decaying organic matter, especially vegetable matter. They may also graze on spores of molds and mildews, especially indoors where there is a lack of other food sources.” Springtails are cosmopolitan, and they can be found worldwide.
Letter 7 – Elongate Bodied Springtail
Subject: Bug ID
Location: Central New Jersey
July 7, 2016 4:11 am
I have a number of bugs that seem localized to my kitchen, almost all I’ve seen on the floor, only a couple on the walls. They are very small, do not apear winged but seem to be able to jump. They are not on my 2 dogs. I cannot find a concentration of them in any one spot. They are not in my cabinets, I don’t see any in the crawlspace beneath the kitchen or I’m the adjacent garage or dining room. Please help?
This is a benign Elongate Bodied Springtail, and though they are not considered harmful, and are in fact considered beneficial, they can be a nuisance if too plentiful.
Thank you Daniel after a little research I discovered the same thing after I emailed you but definitely good to get a confirmation from an expert, I really appreciate it. Now I just have to figure out how to get them out of my house.
Letter 8 – Elongate Bodied Springtail
Subject: Need help identifying
Location: Central Ohio
August 15, 2017 10:41 am
Hello, We live in central Ohio and recently we’ve found a ton of these tiny guys on scrap wood in our basement. I put some of them in a magnifying container but still can’t tell what they are and I’ve tried searching online. The jump, there are several different sizes of them from really tiny to a tad bigger and they all seem to look the same no matter the size, they also appear to be different shades of grey. I’m attaching some photos. Hoping you can help me and these are not big problem bugs as most of our old house is made of old black walnut including the 3×4 tall batten boards up a lot of our walls.
Signature: Any help is much appreciated!!!
Letter 9 – Elongate Bodied Springtail
Subject: Could you id this bug
Geographic location of the bug: INDIANA
Time: 09:26 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: This is a small bug on the side of my house and there is a lot of them.
How you want your letter signed: Id bug
This is an Elongate Bodied Springtail, a benign creature that might become a nuisance if it becomes too numerous, especially inside the home. Springtails in the order Collembola are arguably the most numerous group of animals on land, though some species are aquatic.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Elongate Bodied Springtail
Tue, Oct 21, 2008 at 8:35 PM
These tiny insects, no longer than an 1/8 inch, appear on my drawing desk while I work. They seem most prevalent in the summertime, hopping from out of nowhere onto my white paper at a rate of at least 1 per hour. They’re not particularly bothersome, but they jump faster than the eye can see… and I figure they’ve got to be coming from somewhere. Sorry for the bad pics, but I was lucky just to photograph it. Thanks!
This is a Springtail. It looks to be an Elongate Bodied Springtail in the Suborder Arthropleona – Elongate-bodied Springtails, Family Entomobryidae, Genus Entomobrya, and possibly Species Entomobrya griseoolivata as evidenced by an image on BugGuide. If Springtails get numerous, they can be an annoyance, but they are basically quite benign.