Springtails are tiny insects that love a moist environment. Thus, they’re mostly found in mulch, compost and damp areas in your yard. But, they can also inhabit your home.
Although these critters are not harmful to humans, pets or plants, they can become a nuisance if found in large numbers. They have the ability to jump and if disturbed, you’ll see an entire swarm jump up at once. This can be quite unsettling.
The best way to try and eliminate them from your soil is to find where they’re nesting.
A Springtail’s Favorite Habitat
As mentioned, springtails love warm, moist environments. They feed on organic matter in the garden such as decaying plant material and fungi. Thus, you’ll often find them breeding under your mulch or even in your compost.
They can breed quickly in large numbers. So, if you can find where they’re nesting, you can easily reduce the population. You may not be able to eliminate them entirely, but keeping their numbers in check is a good idea.
How To Get Rid Of Springtails
Here are some basic steps you can take to rid your soil of these nuisance pests.
1. Find Their Nesting Site
To find their nesting site, look for moist areas in your garden with lots of organic matter. Try looking for them:
- Under mulch
- In your compost pile
- Under logs or wood chips
- In your flower pots
- Under your patio or deck
- Any overly damp spots in your yard
2. Spray These Nesting Sites With An Insect Growth Regulator
Most insecticides that you can buy for controlling springtails, don’t effectively eliminate them. It’s far better to interrupt their growth cycle by using an insect growth regulator such as Azadirachtin.
This chemical will disrupt the insects’ growth by starving them. It inhibits their synthesis or metabolism. It comes from the neem tree. Thus, you could also try spraying the insect nesting sites with a mixture of neem oil and water.
Cedar essential oil has also been effective in treating colonies of springtails. Make sure you use essential cedar oil that has not been purified.
3. Treat Your Soil With Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a mixture of sedimentary rock and fossilized bones of phytoplankton. When insects crawl over this, they receive cuts from the sharp edges. This allows their body fluids to leak out and leads to dehydration. Hence, the insects will eventually die.
It’s best to apply this product to dry soil if possible. If the soil is too moist, the diatomaceous earth will dissipate into the soil instead of sitting on top of it.
If you’ve found a springtail nesting site, you can sprinkle this powder directly on and around the site. If the springtails come into contact with it, it will also absorb the fats from their outer layers. This effectively dehydrates them.
Make sure that you use food-grade diatomaceous earth that doesn’t contain any silica. The latter, which is used in swimming pool filters, is dangerous if you inhale it.
4. Let Your Soil Dry Out Between Watering
Springtails can’t survive in dry soil. Thus, if you can, let your soil dry out between watering. This will discourage colonies of springtails from becoming established. Plus, it will encourage them to leave and search for more moist conditions.
5. Turn Over Your Mulch And Compost Frequently
Springtails tend to build their nests under mulch and in piles of compost. Especially if these contain a fair bit of moisture. If you turn over your mulch or compost frequently, you’ll expose their eggs to drier conditions. This will interrupt their breeding cycle.
6. Avoid Adding Mulch To Your Soil Until You’ve Controlled The Springtails
If you do have an infestation of springtails in your soil, avoid adding any more mulch. At least until you’ve tried all the control methods above.
This will leave your soil exposed and allow it to dry out. Once this happens, the springtails will leave in search of damper areas and you can then add mulch again.
7. Aerate Your Lawn To Remove Thatch
If your lawn has become compacted, you’ll undoubtedly have a layer of thick thatch just above the soil. This is an ideal breeding ground for springtails.
Therefore, it’s important to aerate your lawn to break up the thatch and let the water drain down into the soil and away.
8. Clean Up Areas Of Leaf Litter
It’s important to clean up any areas of your yard where leaf litter tends to accumulate. Springtails love to nest in moist, decomposing litter. Add this litter to your compost as it’s full of nutrients once it decomposes.
Having a compost bin with a tight-fitting lid is a good idea. A compost tumbler is even better because you can turn it frequently to aerate the decomposing material.
However, if you do have an open compost heap, make sure you turn it over with a garden fork often. Not only will this help the decomposition, but it will also discourage springtails from breeding in your heap.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Are springtails harmful?
No, springtails are not harmful to humans or pets but they are considered a nuisance. They don’t bite or carry disease.
Do springtails fly?
No, they don’t have wings.
What animals eat springtails?
Springtails are favored by dart frogs, newts, salamanders and spiders as food.
Even though springtails are not harmful to humans, pets or even plants, they can become a nuisance if allowed to breed in large numbers.
Although it’s unlikely that you will be able to rid your garden entirely of these pests, there are measures you can take to eliminate them from your soil.
The most important thing you can do is to let your soil dry out between watering, clean up any leaf litter and turn your mulch and compost frequently.
Do you have any other tried and true solutions to ridding your garden of springtails? Please be sure to share your tips with us in the comments below.