Dry out those springtails

It’s usually this time of year we get many calls for tiny masses of bugs that are covering bathroom or kitchen floors. We hardly need to even go out to take a look once the caller says they think they are fleas because they ‘hop’. Immediately we know that these are most likely springtails and it’s a call that can prove to be very difficult to deal with. Second we dread the call, these things can be very difficult to locate and even if we find them, it is at times just as hard to treat.

First a few facts;

Springtails get their name because they do indeed hop or “spring” away when approached. They do not fly but they have a tiny appendage called a furcula which propels them with a catapult type motion when the sense danger. The hopping resembles that of a flea so this is where some confusion comes in. They do not bite and are harmless however their sheer numbers cause panic for the home owner who suddenly finds tens of thousands of these tiny creatures all across their bathroom floor. They spread no known disease and they eat things like mold, fungus, spores, organic material and little children. Naw I made that up they really are harmless:) Springtails do NOT come up from a drain unless of course yours has a crack or is broken and allows them to enter the home this way. You may see many of them in the drain or in a tub or sink but that’s because they are attracted to moisture and were looking to get back to it. It’s not uncommon to find many different sized and shaped springtails even in the same colony as this is how they develop. This tiny creature is very hardy and can withstand cold temperatures and has been known to emerge on warm winter days and is sometimes called the ‘snow flea.’ Sringtails can live in mulch, in your walls, in your soil or under the slab. When the moisture dries up the springtails simply move toward another more suitable location. Basically anywhere moisture is plentiful and constant is susceptible to a springtail colony. Hint; They are very adept at living under slabs.

Locating the springtail colony

Finding the colony is key and that’s usually not to far from where they’ve emerged. If you can narrow down your location you may be able to take simple steps to eradicate this bug. Looking for the moisture source near the infestation site will help but it is not always so easy to find. Pipes under the slab often times offer moisture with condensation and you may need a moisture meter to detect it. Wood siding may ‘wick’ up moisture if it is to close to the soil and this may lead to an infestation in the wall voids. A/C drip lines often produce a steady stream of water especially during the summer months. Heavy mulch or peat will hold moisture and give them a food source and sprinklers that are misdirected to hit the home can provide this all important need as well. It is not always obvious and at times can be very frustrating and you’ll swear that you have no moisture problem at all but the bugs keep coming. Let me assure you, they are there because of the moisture and unless you find it, treat the colony or dry it out you will be fighting a losing battle for years to come.

Treating the springtail

Obviously the best option is to dry them out whether it means dialing back the sprinkler system, turning the mulch, diverting the a/c line or what have you, this will always be your best option. Along with the moisture modification you can treat the inside area with a residual insecticide which should work rather nicely. (almost anything you’d use for a roach will suffice-read the label of course) Outside you should use a granule barrier such as Talstar or Bifen and that may be your best bet. Pro’s might rod or probe the soil with special tools to create a deeper barrier for more immediate relief.

If however you determine they are under a patio or bathroom slab you may be in for a more costly and dramatic treatment which is much
like treating for termites. A hammer drill can be used to drill holes in the slab and then injectors would treat the soil beneath. This approach is risky because getting the wrong spot is useless and any remaining springtails may just move to another location under the slab and it’s back to square one. Most customers do not opt for this approach because of the cost and our sometimes futile attempts can go on year after year.

Quick fixes

Caulking small cracks in the baseboards can sometimes seal them out and make sure to pay special attention around the tubs and showers as this is a very common spot. Pointing a fan towards the area will sort of keep them in check and also helps to dry out the room and dehumidifiers can be helpful to draw moisture out as well and with any luck your springtails may just move on. You could even try to saturate a spot with water just outside the home just away from the foundation. This may lure many of them out to your wet area and you could zap them with your granule or lawn insecticide. Mean trick I know but it has been known to work.

I’m sure some of you reading this have tried almost all of these things but to no avail. This is a testament of the hardy little springtail that can be so difficult to get rid of. Make sure that when the exodus comes to an end for the season that you don’t give up trying to make life as dry as possible for this hoppy little bugger.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • The Bug Doctor

    Thank you,

    I looked at your site and hopefully adding your link to mine here in the comments will benefit you as well.

    The Bug Doctor

  • The Bug Doctor

    Thank you,

    I looked at your site and hopefully adding your link to mine here in the comments will benefit you as well.

    The Bug Doctor

  • Mjlabieniec

    Help!!!!  I just started finding the springtails a few weeks ago.  I only noticed in one location (my glass sliding door in family room on first floor that leads to a wooden deck) but now they are in all bathrooms and I even found one in my daughters bedroom on the window sill.  I’ve applied bifen granules almost everywhere and i did delta dust around glass sliding door and all cracks..baseboards, etc and in the bathrooms too of course.  I have also sprayed with raid.  They just keep coming back.  Not sure how to find the nest??  I did see them all over the siding in the back of the house and when i see them inside also they are only in the back of the house…that’s where the bathrooms and the family room with glass sliding door is.  I think the nest originated somewhere in the back of the house…maybe under the wood deck??  I don’t know!!!  Anyway, I have no idea what to do next.  I’m getting nervous that they are not migrating anymore and that they have a nest in the house now.  I’m at my witts end.  I cannot live with these things.  I know they are harmless but seeing them crawling on floors is grossing me out!!!!!!!!!!!  ANd it’s frustrating that I can’t get rid of them even though I look stuff up and try everything that has seemingly worked for others.  Why isn’t it working for me?????

  • Invasions can be frustrating– First thing I’d say is to get a positive ID on the invader. There are many bugs that could be hoarding in on you and knowing exactly what kind of insect you have will be key to stopping them. Your use of the word “migrating” is a good one for springtails but they really don’t have a nest in the traditional sense. They’ll follow the moisture (as will other insects) so if you can reduce that in the are of infestation that may help. At this point I’d say a can of Raid isn’t going to help you much and I think you might be better off calling in a pro.

  • larry david

    My question is how long can these things live??? We moved from our old house 2 years ago, that had major issues with leaking pipes, leaking windows, and a leaking roof. So we had issues with Springtails, & Psocids. When we moved into our new home, I would see a springtail every blue moon, & step on them, but we had “no” infestations.
    Last weekend I went into our garage to break down some empty boxes, & get rid of them that were from our old house. Well the boxes were full of Springtails, & I tracked them into the new house. But note…This is 2 years of just sitting in our garage! The Springtails are located around the kitchen counter sink, & floor, and spreading towards my family room, which is near the sliding backdoor. Btw, I have no backyard put in as of yet.
    I sprayed, & put down sticky glue traps to catch any I missed, but they are still hanging around! So I called in my exterminator, he told me that, “this should do the job,” but I am “still” seeing them. I do not want these things in my house, because they don’t stay in one area, they spread to different places in your house. My exterminator comes out every month, and I believe I will ask him to spray once more. Any other advise will help – TY.

  • That’s crazy but a testament I guess to the resiliency of some bugs…. I’d be vacuuming as well as relying on your pest guy for the best help. If they lasted 2 years in the garage boxes, I think they may not go away quietly within the short time you’ve been spraying…Your residual should get them so don’t go too overboard with a bunch of sprays. A non residual pyrethrin aerosol might help to spot treat in between.

  • larry david

    Thank you Bug Doctor…Tomorrow I’m going to purchase a non residual pyrethrin aerosol pronto!

  • let us know how it goes.

  • larry david

    Bug Doctor, well you’re right….These little pest are “not” going quietly! I ordered from “Do My Own Pest Control,” – Talstar Aerosol, a long-lasting residual, and also 565 Plus XLO, a non-residual with Pyrethrin. I am winning the War with them, but not the battle! Thank god for sticky traps, they let me know how well I am doing in regards to ridding my house of the Springtails.
    The Springtails that were venturing towards my Sliders, have been controlled, I hope. The ones that are located on my Kitchen Counter, around the Sink, Floor (around the sink), and under a window where the Sink is located at, are another story…Every time I look, it seems that one of those little buggers have spawned off-spring. Yet I spray till I’m blue in the face! I believe they got a foothold, because it took me awhile to realize that I needed something better than an over the counter bug spray (2 weeks). My spouse wants to do a Fogger, and at this point I will try anything that might work. I just want these critters out of my house! Thanks for all of your advice tho, because without it, I never would have known that I was wasting money buying regular bug sprays.

  • Take heart and keep up the good fight.

  • Mark Schneider

    Springtails are in my kitchen sink! So how would I dry that out?

  • Good point! Make sure it is springtails and not psocids. The two get mistaken quite a bit.

  • larry david

    Hi Bug Doctor…Well its been 7 months, & the fight goes on. But there are some new things that I have discovered from my research of these gawd awful bugs. First, I don’t believe the Springtails came from my old house in boxes. I think our new house was built on their nesting area, and they came into our garage, & got into the boxes! Secondly, I am 100% sure we had Psocids in our old house, and I thought the Springtails were Psocids. The Psocids would always get into our Flour, & Grain Products. Both bugs are so similar, so I thought we had brought the Springtails with us to our new home, but no. The Springtails were here before we moved to our new house!
    Third, when our carpet was installed into our new home the guys who installed it, cut the carpeting in the streets….And that’s how these little buggers got into my carpeting throughout my home. I vacuum a lot to say the least. 🙁
    We are now using Bifen IT, and Cy-kick , which works very well, but the Springtails still remain in my house. Especially in a corner of my Living Room, the exterior side of the wall is my front yard….I think/believe the Springtails nest might be there, so I load it up with Bifen!
    Just my latest update….TY

  • Since you have that area nailed as a “hot spot”, could you call an exterminator out to drill the slab and inject the soil? Worth a shot…

  • larry david

    Bug Doc…would be just like how exterminators inject the soil for termites? Because in my research about Springtails I have read that sometimes when exterminators inject the soil the home owners get a 2-fer! Killing off the Termites, & Springtail? So would I call in an exterminator for Termites?

  • t

    Table salt. Put it every where. Let it sit in carpet for 2-3 days or more repeat if necessary. I tried everything but found a cheap solution I’ll always swear by and that is good old table salt. What I’ve read it will kill the larve, eggs and pest itself. I put on garage floor also. And around the house. Got to be careful b.c it says it will burn ur lawn though.

  • Not so sure that’s gonna work but thank you.

  • Franz Gans

    I’ve been having on and off problems with these little buggers on my patio for years. the patio is about 8 meters wide and maybe 3 meters deep from house to garden.
    They keep popping up on the concrete in the spring-fall season. I use highly concentrated Talstar and Archer IGR on the concrete and that seems to keep them somewhat in check. Recently I also used a very high dose of Delta granulate in a strip right before the concrete and watered it down.
    I have the feeling that may have helped for a while, but not sure.
    My next step is to dig a trench alongside the patio-garden border and fill it with Termidor. Maybe that helps.

    My main question is: Is it more likely that those pests breed in the garden soil or somehow on the concrete? There are a few pieces of garden furniture on the concrete but nothing that would create larger areas of covered ground like a pile of wood or a box or so.

    I should add that I have a sprinkler system and there are 3 nozzles right on the borderline pointing towards the garden. I intend to plug them up and let the strip of grass close to the patio die off.

  • Drying out the area would help but under the concrete is moisture that’s almost impossible to get rid of. I’d be careful to check to see if Termidor is even labeled for this use. Since it’s an outside patio–if there was a way you could checkerboard drill the slab and inject a residual product–that would eliminate that area I’m sure.

  • Franz Gans

    good hint, that with the concrete moisture. Although, I am in California
    so its hard to imagine for me there is any moisture but then it could
    be that the garden irrigation water runs under the concrete. I haven’t
    kept track of when those springtails appear, whether its related to my
    irrigation cycle or not. But I will dry out the strip of garden that is
    closest to the concrete now by removing the sprinkler heads. If that
    doesnt help I will do the drilling thing

  • Think of it–if you laid some plastic on the ground overnight there would be moisture accumulation overnight..This is also true of desert conditions. Slabs are a great place for moisture to collect and stay..All sorts of insects seek out life giving moisture in such areas. Hope you end your problem soon.

  • guest

    Here’s an update on my situation. It’s now I think 3 weeks ago that I did my last ditch attempt. I found the tip about Termidor somewhere on the internet and I am happy to report that it works like hell.
    I loosened up the ground alongside the borderline between the concrete and the garden as deep as I could so that liquid would be taken up by the soil.
    Then I made a highly concentrated mixture of one liter of Termidor, about 30 oz of Talstar and several ounces of Archer IGR in 15 gallons of water and pouerd it into this loose soil. The length of the patio is about 8-10 meters as I said.
    I also removed the sprinkler heads that were right alongside that borderline and accepted that the grass in the immediate vicinity will die.
    Well Since I did that I haven’t seen one springtail. The forked tail earwigs are also extremely rare now. I BELIEVE this time I really nailed it. Termidor isn’t cheap but if I have to redo it once a year perhaps it will be well worth it.
    I hope this tip will be helpful for others who have an outdoor problem with springtails.

  • dydmd

    Although you may have reduced the infestation, you’ve done so by violating the law because you did not follow label directions, which in itself is irresponsible. Pesticide labels clearly state “It is a violation of Federal Law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.” I suggest you read the label next time before using a pesticide.

  • Sara

    Please help. I think we have these bugs but I’ve read all over the Internet that they can burrow under your skin and infest humans as well as your house. I am completely horrified and have moved out of my house I’m so afraid. Is this true?

  • Not true at all. Please don’t bother with hokey sites. Anything with .edu at the end is going to be far more reliable. And of course here.

  • Rich in NJ

    No Sara – technically, they’re absolutely harmless. They dont bite humans. They’re just ANNOYING!!!

  • Dani

    I first noticed these buggers last summer crawling in my 2nd story bathroom tub. Then I saw them on the first floor bathroom. And then in my kitchen, on my dish rack and on some pots and pans. Also along the windowsills and definitely on the back patio. I am renting a home and the landlord considered this a new infestation so says it’s my responsibility when I brought it up. I’m counting down the months until cooler weather when I don’t have to deal with these and the anxiety I get looking for them. We just had our exterior kitchen doors replaced and Idk if it’s because the new doors are so white that I never noticed them before or If them disturbing the siding and dry wall brought them out…either way they are worse now than ever! So besides counting down the months until cooler weather I’m counting down the 2 years left on the lease we just renewed. My fear is that they will follow us wherever we go since we will be moving smack in the middle of summer and when I’m sure the house will be crawling with them. How long do they live? What is the likelihood we would be bringing them with us to a new home down the road? Also, what can be done to eliminate a drip from a window unit air conditioner?

  • Rest at ease…..You cannot transport springtails….

  • Tiago

    I noticed some of this little insects on my windowsill. They just appears in little numbers. I look at times to see if there’s more and sometimes they don’t show up. Other times they appears in groups of 3 or 4. I kill them and then, there’s like more 2 some hours later. I can’t find any colony near the window and they don’t appear in great numbers so i don’t know what they’re doing there all the time, in so little numbers.
    My question is, i have the PC and some books and game consoles near this window, can this insects be harmful to any of these? Books, or electronics?

  • Not likely. Have you had them positively ID’d?

  • Tiago

    I’m positively sure that they are springtails. I looked through a magnifying lens just to make sure and they looked exactly like the pictures, they even jump sometimes when i poke them. I just find strange that they appear and random numbers and intervals, but never in sufficient numbers to be alarmed, still they appears all the time.

  • Jen

    We’ve had these in our house for a few years now. At first, we didn’t pay them any attention cause it was only one or two. Now I realize, they have gotten worse and worse every year. This time, I am seeing them all over my bathroom floor. I went to grab some plates that were stored in my guest room, and thought they had dirt all over them. Realized they were covered in springtails! Last night, had one crawling on my arm while in bed!!! The good news is we are moving out this weekend, for unrelated reasons. Our belongings will be in storage for about 3 months, until we are able to get into our new home. Should I worry about these in my climate controlled storage unit? I’m sure that there will be some moved in our boxes and things. Can they survive this? Do I have to worry about them multiplying in our stuff while in storage? Help! Thanks!

  • Moving should end ALL of your troubles… they wont be able to make the move and continue their life cycle

  • bug hater

    I just noticed some very tiny bugs crawling on my window ac, most likely springtails. I suspect they’re there because it’s been raining recently…y’know, May. Will they go away once the weather dries again? Good to hear that they’re harmless but it’s been bothering me since my bed is right next to the ac :/

  • Brianna

    I’ve been having a soringtail issue since last summer. I was about to lose my mind when August hit and they went away on their own. Well, they are back and I think stronger than last year! I have called every entry way so hopefully they won’t invade like they did last time, here’s hoping. But the reason I’m writing is actually that I have had 3 separate “professional” companies come out to treat and it does absolutely NOTHING and I just don’t feel comfortable doing my own pest control since I have 2 small children and a dog that is in the yard multiple times a day. My question is why do so many pest control companies not treat these things the way you and many other experts on the internet do? None of them have used the products you are referring to and/or treat the way you suggest. Should I be recommending specific treatment to them or will they think I’m crazy? I love my home but this is really making me question staying for the long haul. Are the products you suggest safe for my children and dog? Thank you!

  • Franz Gans

    If somebody comes by he can just claim he did it for the termites.
    Seriously, you’re worried about the law when you’re fighting bug infestation? If it helps him, I don’t see a problem and would do it too.

  • So disregarding the law and then if caught simply lie about it!?? Yeah, what’s the problem???? smh

  • Franz Gans

    What’s the problem? that stuff is legal where he lives I understand? So you are basically saying that what’s in his mind, his intention are what “breaks the law” not his actions. It’s like saying, oh this guy killing somebody is bad because he just wanted his money, but that guy killing somebody is ok, because he did it with good intention to protect somebody.
    I mean we’re talking about state laws here that are totally arbitrary. You can’t use most psticide in liberal states like New York or cities like San Francisco. Not because of scientific reasons but simply because of what these green-peacers believe. there is no legitimate reason to say “You can put this stuff in the ground if you want to kill termites, but you can not put the same stuff in the same ground if you want to kill something else”
    The result is the same: Stuff in the ground. The intention makes no difference in the effect it may or may not have on the ground.
    Logic. That’s what should govern us. Not laws that could change tomorrow and make no sense at all

  • Intention is a factor but in a court of law it’s tough to say how things are viewed… Depends on the day I guess

  • TC

    Springtails or Collembola absolutely CAN bite humans and burrow in your skin. They can cause many problems. They are FAR from harmless to some people. Yes, there is proof of this! So much proof. I would also be happy to share my research.

  • Victoria

    We put LOTS of salt all over the floor and carpets and left it for days with absolutely no effect. It works for fleas which we thought we had but not for springtails. I had never heard of springtails before but evidently they aren’t a new thing.

  • Fore_Cite

    What a joke. They do not burrow into skin you ding bat

  • Fore_Cite

    My advice is to caulk your baseboards and look around the outside of the house for any cracks near windows/doors that the springtails can come in from. I have had problems with Springtails and it freaked me out so bad I sealed up the walls/floor with silicone caulk and double sealed it with the baseboards and I have not seen any more Springtails coming in from that area. Now I need to finish the job because they are coming in from other walls that were not caulked yet.