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Springtails: Collembola

Behavior And Reproduction

Springtails "jump" not with their legs but by the springlike release of the forklike structure underneath the abdomen. When released, the "fork" snaps down against the ground and flips the springtail into the air, sometimes as high as 8 inches (20.3 centimeters). This device, present in all but a few springtails, seems to be an effective method to avoid predators, or animals that hunt the springtail for food.

Adults are capable of reproduction only every other time they molt, or shed their external skeleton. Reproduction usually requires a male and female, but some females can produce eggs without a male. Some springtails have elaborate courtship behavior, with males dancing and butting heads with females. Many males leave a sperm packet on the ground that is later picked up by the female. Others place sperm with their hind legs directly into the female's reproductive organs.

Eggs are laid singly or in large masses by several females. Some females cover their eggs with a mixture of chewed-up soil and their own waste, to protect them from mold or from becoming dried out. The eggs hatch into larvae that resemble small adults. They usually molt four or five times before reaching adulthood and continue to grow and molt for the rest of their lives. Some species, especially those living in the tropics, produce several generations every year, and others have only one generation per year. Some Antarctic species may take as long as four years to become adults.

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