What Do Springtails Eat?

Are you thinking of adding springtails to your vivarium but are not sure where to start? What do springtails eat? What conditions should you keep them in? We answer some of these questions below.

 

Springtails are small, wingless creatures that are non-threatening to humans. However, many springtail species are known to infest plants. The main reason why they infest plants and soil is to get moisture and food!

Organic matter, like decaying plants and fungi, is the food source for these hexapods. But what else do springtails eat? We shall find out in this article.

 

 

Food That Springtails Like To Eat

Springtails are detritivores, which means that they feed on decaying or dead organic matter:

  • Dead leaves
  • Decaying plants and their branches and roots
  • Tree bark
  • Fungi
  • Algae
  • Bacteria
  • Mold
  • Plant roots (though it is quite rare)
  • Mildew
  • Lichens
  • Insect excreta and more.

For this reason, people add springtail cultures to culture tanks, vivariums, and bioactive terrariums.

Their main purpose here is to work as ‘janitors’ and clean off the space.

They can also be fed foods like brewer’s yeast, dry baker’s yeast, fish food like pellets, uncooked rice misted with purified water, instant oat cereal mixed with purified water, and more.

Many pest experts also believe that some species of predatory springtails feast upon carrion, if available, and other tiny insects.

How Does Springtail’s Diet Benefit the Ecosystem?

Here are a few ways a springtail’s diet and eating habits benefit the ecosystem.

Since springtails feed on decaying organic matter, they remove the dead stuff rotting in your tank, such as algae, fungi, and more. In a way, their small vacuum cleaners remove the decaying or dead matter from the environment.

They snack on many fungi, so they prevent many fungal diseases and infections. By eating fungi, they also help manage their population, just like they do with algae and bacteria.

Springtails also consume molds. Molds thrive in places of excessive moisture, and they tend to grow on almost any organic matter.

Molds are also bad for humans since they can cause allergic reactions, runny nose, itchiness, and other problems.

Some species of springtails also feed on the excreta of other insects and help in cleaning them up.

 

 

Their Role In Vivariums

Springtails are an indispensable part of cleaning up a live vivarium. You can pour your springtail culture into the substrate layer of the habitat as a natural cleaning agent.

They recycle the plant nutrients in the soil or ground and contribute to accelerating the process of plant decomposition and mineralization of soil.

Moreover, the excreta of springtails is quite rich in nutrients which makes for a good breeding ground for several micro-organisms.

What To Feed Springtails and Isopods in a Vivarium?

Springtails are part of the isopod culture and are often referred to as the ‘clean-up crew’ because they play quite a role in maintaining the health of a vivarium.

Vivarium owners use two types of springtails:

  • Temperate springtails
  • Tropical springtails

The reason is that both of them gladly feast upon the following naturally available items:

  • Decaying plants, dead leaves and branches, and all organic matter that’s degrading by minute
  • Feces of the animals that live in the vivarium or bioactive terrariums
  • Food scraps left by the other inhabitants of the vivarium
  • Fungi, pathogens, and bacteria that may otherwise be harmful to the health of reptiles or amphibians in the vivarium

Since the vivarium habitat has a damp environment, you don’t really need to do anything special for springtails or Isopoda, such as feeding them. They grow and multiply on their own and eat everything we mentioned above.

If you must feed them in a vivarium, here’s a list of items to sprinkle on the surface or substrate layer of the habitat every 2 to 4 days.

  • Brewer’s yeast or Dry Baker’s yeast
  • Flakes or pellets
  • Fish food
  • Uncooked rice (misted with purified water since it helps grow fungi or mold quickly)
  • Instant oat cereal (misted with purified water since it helps grow fungi or mold quickly)
  • Insect parts
  • Raw vegetarian food and leaf litter for isopods

Most people prefer feeding Brewer’s yeast over other diets to springtails in a vivarium, aquarium, or terrarium.

 

 

Do Springtails Eat Poop?

Whether it’s the largest springtails on the planet, temperate springtails, or the smallest ones, they all poop. Like any other living organism, they have their food to feed on – algae, insect fungi, bacteria, etc.

And yes, they also eat poop. They eat it, and like all other creatures on the earth, they excrete it out as well. The feces of springtails is full of nutrients for several micro-organisms to feed on and breed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do springtails need to survive?

Springtails need a moist or damp environment to survive. They feed on fungi, algae, mites, bacteria, mold, lichens, insect excreta, decaying plant matter, and sometimes even carrion.

All of these are usually available in moist places. Springtails can live through most weather conditions, even extreme cold.

Do springtails eat mold?

Yes, springtails eat molds. Molds are particularly problematic because they tend to destroy anything organic that is left outside by chance.

If you have molds in your house, they can also cause headaches, runny nose, itchiness, and allergic reactions. Springtails eat molds and therefore are great for those who are facing this problem.

What are springtails attracted to?

Springtails are mostly attracted to damp areas with a lot of moisture since it helps them breed more and find their main food source.

They are also attracted to light and can follow it through the cracks in your walls and the crevices underneath your doors to come into your home.

How do you keep springtails happy?

You can make springtails happy by keeping them in high humidity with excessive moisture and damp environments. You can keep them around damp soil, in a vivarium, or in potted plants.

A light sprinkling of brewster’s yeast or rice flakes every now and then in their enclosure will also be good for them.

 

 

Wrap Up

There isn’t a lot that springtails need to survive. They feed on things that help to maintain the balance of our environment and can cause diseases and other problems.

Springtails are less of a pest and more of a boon for humans, and if you are planning to start a springtail culture, we will encourage you to do it.

 

Authors

  • Daniel Marlos

    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.

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