This species is the largest springtail in the UK (3). The antennae are longer than the body when straight (2) but curl into spirals from the tip when the specimen is disturbed (3). The body is covered in tiny scales which give this insect a dark appearance, but the cuticle below the scales is golden or brown (2). Springtails are an ancient group of small, wingless six-legged insects in which the mouthparts are situated inside the head (3). The name ‘springtail’ refers to the fact that most of these insects have a forked appendage beneath the abdomen known as the furca. The furca is usually tucked away but can be sprung open rapidly, flinging the insect into the air (3). All springtails have a tube beneath the abdomen which secretes ‘glue’; this tube is important in grooming and allows these insects to cling onto smooth surfaces. This feature has earned this group the name Collembola, from the Greek words ‘cole’ meaning glue and ‘embolon’ meaning piston (3). Springtails are the most abundant insects in the world, and are found in huge numbers in nearly every habitat (3).
Members of this family of springtails tend to live in trees or amongst low vegetation and are fairly active (3). Springtails play an important role in breaking down organic matter as they feed on decaying vegetation and fungi (2). Tree-dwelling species tend to feed on algae and lichens on the bark (3).
Springtails do not undergo complete metamorphosis during their life-cycle, as some insects do, instead they have a series of moults which allows them to keep growing (2).
In arthropods (crustaceans, insects and arachnids) the abdomen is the hind region of the body, which is usually segmented to a degree (but not visibly in most spiders). In crustacea (e.g. crabs) some of the limbs attach to the abdomen; in insects the limbs are attached to the thorax (the part of the body nearest to the head) and not the abdomen. In vertebrates the abdomen is the part of the body that contains the internal organs (except the heart and lungs).
Type of insect development (also known as holometabolous development) in which there is a distinct larval and pupal stage. The larval stage is different to the adult in terms of both structure and diet, and the pupa is a relatively inactive stage in which the larval tissues are broken down and rearranged into adult structures.
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