Springtail (Pogonognathellus longicornis)

Synonyms: Tomocerus longicornis
GenusTomocerus (1)
SizeLength (not including antennae): 6 mm (2)

Common (2).

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).

This common species is found throughout Britain (4).

This species is particularly common in gardens (4).

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).

This species is not threatened.

Conservation action is not required for this common species.

For information on invertebrates and their conservation see Buglife, the Invertebrate Conservation Trust:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (January 2004):
  2. Springtail of the month- Tomocerus longicornis. The Postal Microscopical Society (January 2004):
  3. Hopkin, S. The biology of Collembola (springtails): the most abundant insects in the world. Natural History Museum (January 2004):
  4. Provisional Atlas of the Collembola of Britain and Ireland (January 2004):