Have you got a springtail infestation in your backyard? In this article, we discuss how to get rid of springtails in the soil before they have a chance to enter your home.
Springtails are tiny and wingless hexapods. You can find them in any damp or moist place in your house, such as bathrooms, kitchens, windows, and specifically in the soil around plants.
While they aren’t harmful to human beings, some species can cause plant damage. You might find the roots and leaves of seedlings damaged due to a springtail infestation.
This is why it is best to get rid of springtails in and around plant soil in your house. We will explore how to do this in the article below.
Where Do Springtails Nest in The Soil?
Springtails thrive in a warm and moist environment. You will often find them nesting in your garden, where there is a lot of dead organic materials for them to feed on.
Below are some of the places to look for them in your garden or backyard:
- In your houseplants
- In the soil of your plant pot
- Under mulch
- Near or on plant roots
- In the soil (appropriately moist, not dry soil)
- In compost
Decaying plant material, bacteria, mold, and fungi are the main source of food for springtails. So, remove them from the soil before you deal with a full-blown springtail infestation.
How To Get Remove Springtails From Soil?
The presence of springtails around the plants in your garden is a problem because they can harm them as well as spread inside the house.
So, once you see signs of infestation, you should use some of the methods that we are listing below, such as sprinkling diatomaceous earth, using neem oil, and other essential oils, cinnamon, or baking soda.
Using Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a fine powder made from fossilized algae. It helps eliminate springtails in soil with excess moisture.
Even though you might think of using it on wet soil, you will get better results using this powder in dry soil. The powder tends to dissipate under the soil if it is wet.
When you locate a nesting site, you should liberally sprinkle the powder all around and near the site. Make sure you use food-grade diatomaceous earth. The industrial-grade product has silica in it which can cause silicosis.
We all know that garlic is helpful in killing bacteria, but did you know that garlic can also help you get rid of annoying springtails? All you need is to use this process:
- Peel and grate garlic bulbs into cloves
- Pour cold water on the cloves and wait about half an hour
- Strain the mixture to remove the cloves
- Add one part of water to one part of this mix.
Spraying this mixture on plants, and on the soil around the plants, especially in places where you see springtail nests.
Cinnamon is easy to find in most kitchens and is an effective home remedy for springtails in the soil. You can use cinnamon in two ways to remove springtails from the soil under potted plants:
- Sprinkle it directly on the outer part of the soil
- Mix it with water and spray it on
For the second method, mix four spoons of cinnamon in one liter of water. Shake well and spray it on the soil and let it stay overnight.
If you use these methods on the soil for two weeks, you will see a major difference in the springtail population as well as the quality of the plants.
Baking soda has several uses around the house, such as cleaning ovens and burnt utensils, as well as helping whiten clothes. But one common use that people often do not know about is that of an insecticide for springtails.
You can use a homemade solution of baking soda to spray on springtail infestations. Use the mixture below.
- One spoon of baking soda
- A liter water
- Dish soap
- 4-5 drops of vegetable oil
Mix the above ingredients and pour them into a bottle. Then spray the solution on the soil around your plants, in places where you see a high springtail population.
Ways To Kill Springtails Instantly
Some species of springtails can cause a huge infestation in the soil. The ways we mentioned above will work slowly over the course of 2-3 weeks with regular effort.
If you want to use ways that show instant results, you will have to use a stronger chemical insecticide. We talk more about these in this section.
Granule insecticides are the easiest way to remove springtails from the soil instantly. A mild chemical product would do the job, but if you can find a springtail-specific insecticide, it is better.
For example, Maxxthor Granules and Eight Granules are good places to start. You can also use an insect growth regulator, like Azadirachtin to disrupt the growth cycle of springtails and eliminate them from your garden.
In any case, you would have to buy the product from the market and check whether it works for your specific soil type.
Stick insecticides also work well on springtails. All you have to do is buy a stick insecticide and insert it into the soil. The insecticide will slowly release toxic chemicals that will help control the springtail population.
You do not need to use stick insecticide treatment regularly. You can just put them to use once every four or five weeks, unlike sprays or granules.
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure! To keep springtails off your soil, you need to understand what they are attracted to. Dead organic matter, mulch, mold, moist soil, and compost are all popular springtail haunts. Follow these measures to prevent springtail nests from cropping up.
Turn Over Your Mulch and Compost Frequently
As mentioned, springtails nest mostly under compost piles or mulch, so you can toss over your mulch and compost regularly to bring them out to dry conditions. Springtails cannot survive for long without moisture.
Avoid Adding Mulch to Your Soil Until You’ve Controlled the Springtails
If springtails already infest your soil, the best thing to do for the moment is to try the methods shared in this article. Avoid adding more mulch to the soil. When you do not add more mulch, the soil will eventually dry out, and the springtails will have to find a new place to nest.
Aerate Your Lawn To Remove Thatch
A compacted lawn may have a thick layer of thatch built on the soil, which makes for an ideal nesting ground for springtails and other bugs. Use water to drain down the layer of thatch into the soil.
Clean Up Leaf Litter
Clean and clear all the areas where leaves tend to litter since adult springtails love munching on that stuff. Leaf litter and other plant debris are organic and full of nutrients, so these things work great as compost. But before adding them to compost, you should leave them out to dry completely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I get rid of springtails in the soil?
Usually, springtails are harmless, but some species can feed on plant matter and roots. Moreover, they are nuisance pets that can easily infest your home if they have large nests in your yard or garden. Therefore, you should get rid of them from the soil.
How did springtails get in my soil?
Springtails thrive in places with excessive moisture content. If you water the soil in your yard regularly, it is one place where they can get both moisture and food. If you use soil from house plants you bought from the market, that may also have springtails in it.
Do springtails come back every year?
Springtails can survive in all types of weather and environment, so they can survive all year. They don’t need to come back. They are commonly known as snow fleas just because they are more easily visible against the white snow, but they can breed and thrive in any weather.
Does neem oil get rid of springtails?
Yes, when sprayed on the nesting sites, a mixture of neem oil and water helps get rid of springtails because it impacts their metabolism. Eventually, neem oil will be able to stop their breeding.
Springtails are largely a harmless nuisance pet, but it still makes sense to get rid of them before they make large nests in your garden or yard.
We have discussed some ways, such as using diatomaceous soil, cinnamon, baking soda, and insecticides which will help remove them from your yard.
So, the next time you see these tiny wingless creatures springing into the garden, you will know what to do!
Over the years, our readers have sent us several emails on this topic. Please go through them below.
Letter 1 – Springtails
Subject: What are they??
Location: Wake Forest, NC
June 8, 2015 6:38 pm
These nasty little bugs showed up at our house last year (we moved in in 2010). They are ALL over porches, patio, flagstone, woodwork…literally ALL over the place, thousands. I submitted last year to a Bug ID app and they could NOT telle what they are. They look like silverfish but at not. They are only outside. They are tiny, biggest one would prob be 2-3 millimeters. When it rains they like to move to or siding. Please help me identify these little buggars…they drive me nuts! I have blown up the first picture. The second pic shows them on my outside wood pillars…little specs all over
Signature: Erica the frustrated homeowner
Dear Erica the frustrated homeowner,
Though they can be a nuisance when they are plentiful, these Springtails are benign creatures that will not harm you, your home or its furnishings. When conditions are damp, they will multiply, and you should see numbers diminish when things dry out.
Letter 2 – Slender Springtails
Subject: Tiny guys
Location: Raleigh, NC
February 18, 2017 7:00 pm
Found dozens of these on my porch railing. Very small, maybe 2mm or so. Has been warmer recently, didn’t notice them during the winter.
These are Springtails in the class Collembola, probably the family Entomobryidae, the Slender Springtails which are pictured on BugGuide. Springtails are extremely common Hexapods that are found throughout the world. We consider Springtails to be benign, but they may become a nuisance if conditions are ideal and they become too plentiful.
Letter 3 – Springtails from Australia
What’s this bug
Location: Subtropical Australia
September 4, 2011 1:49 am
This tiny bug (about 1mm long) appears in the thousands in my worm farm. Do you know what it is?
Signature: Many thanks, Julia
You have Springtails, and 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.” As such, they are beneficial creatures. BugGuide also provides this interesting bit of information: “Springtails are probably the most abundant hexapods on Earth, with up to 250 million individuals per acre.”
Many thanks, Daniel – I’ve been wondering about them for years! Good to know they’re beneficial!
Certain Springtails, like the species that live on top of swimming pools, can be a nuisance if they are really plentiful.
Letter 4 – Ainsley's Springtail
What is this bug.
Hi, I have attached these few good images I could get of this bug. I have these near a door in my house. They a hairy and hop a few inches (2-5) at a time. And sometimes, they just walk around. Can you please tell me what they are and if I should be worried?
You have Springtails, most likely Ainsley’s Springtail, Orchesella ainsliei. They inhabit leaf litter, soil and fungi as well as wet vegetation. It ranges from New York to Iowa according to the Audubon Guide. In the spring, it often appears in great numbers. They might be a nuisance, but they are harmless, feeding on juices from decaying plant material.