Springtails are tiny, wingless, moisture-loving creatures that seek dampness outdoors and in. They are frequently found clustered together in dense swarms. When disturbed, they spring into the air, as high as several inches, creating easily visible clouds.
Outside, they’re found in wet soil, decaying straw, rotting leaves and other damp organic material. They feed on molds, fungi and algae.
Springtails occasionally feed on plant roots, but the damage is minimal. Problems arise when these pests congregate in moist areas and multiply. Thousands of springtails blanket walls, foundations and patios as their numbers grow. If not stopped outdoors, springtails multiply indoors in damp basements, kitchens and bathrooms — anywhere with sufficient moisture.
How to prevent:
It is not difficult to keep this insect at bay. First of all ensure that house plants are always grown in sterile potting compost (this will also help keep away the diseases that the soil can contain).
If there is insufficient drainage, the compost can become waterlogged, so, next, always ‘crock’ a pot with a layer of grit or clay pellets before adding compost. If the compost to be used is too compact, coarse sand or perlite can be added to make it more free-draining.
If you find it difficult to assess when to water use a moisture meter, a self-watering cone or a container with a reservoir. In the latter cases, the compost takes up water gradually as it dries out, ensuring an even supply.
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