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Springtails: Collembola

Physical Characteristics

Springtails have three distinct body regions (head; thorax, or midsection; and abdomen), no wings, and six legs, but they are not considered true insects. They form a group closely related to insects that includes proturans (order Protura) and diplurans (order Diplura). All of these animals have mouthparts located inside a special pocket in their head.

Springtails range in length from 0.008 to 0.4 inches (0.2 to 10 millimeters). Species living in caves, deep in leaf litter, or soil are whitish or grayish, while those living out in the open are usually darker or brighter in color. Their bodies are covered in flattened hairlike structures called scales. These insects might have no eyes at all, or they might have small groups of simple eyes, each with single lenses. The mouthparts are needlelike for sucking fluids or have grinding surfaces for chewing.

On the underside of the abdomen is a special organ that absorbs moisture from the surrounding habitat, to maintain the body's water balance. Farther back on the abdomen is a forklike structure that inspired the common name "springtail." The six-segmented abdomen does not have pinchers or a tail at the tip.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceInsects and SpidersSpringtails: Collembola - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Springtails And People, Lucerne Flea (sminthurus Viridis): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, CONSERVATION STATUS