Collembola Snout
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Springtail Snout – Pit Bulls of the Topsoil

Collembola

Magnification: 3’546:1

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Springtail (Collembola sp.) mouth region.

Springtails are found in leaf litter and soil. They have internal mouthparts and are no longer considered to be insects (which have external mouthparts). Collembola lack a tracheal respiration system, which forces them to respire through a porous cuticle (see ornamented surface structure). In sheer numbers, Springtails are among the most abundant organisms. With estimates of 100’000 per cubic metre of topsoil, they are essentially everywhere on Earth where soil and related habitats occur.

With insatiable appetite they eat their way through the topsoil and thereby produce what is essential for plants: excrements rich of essential nutrients that would otherwise be inaccessible for plants. Their stomach breaks down the cellulose from leaves and stems.

Springtails are also the favourite meal for many predators such as mites and pseudo scorpions. To get away, they possess a kind of spring under their abdomen, their “springtail”. It can be moved like a folding knife in a fraction of a second. The force catapults the animal several centimetres away, provided there is enough space.