Q. Each year around the end of February until the end of May I experience and irritating problem with springtails. Do you have and suggestions how to eliminate them? I don’t have decaying plants or problem with water in that area.
A. Springtails are tiny insects that jump in the air en masse when disturbed, usually at ground level. They love it wet. Springtails are sometimes confused with leafhoppers. But leafhoppers, also very small, reproduce and feed higher on plant leaves of plants like grapes and vegetables. Leafhoppers start appearing about April or May, the time when springtails are disappearing because of the heat and dryness. Both jump about the same distances when disturbed but look totally different with a hand lens or microscope.
I can see you know this insect because springtails are found commonly in wet soils with rotting or decaying plants or infesting open bodies of water like summing pools and puddles. That would’ve been my first comment to you if you hadn’t made that last statement. Sometimes springtails become a nuisance inside the house in wet areas with light like bathrooms. Outside, I commonly see them in cooler, dark areas of lawns that are kept too wet during the cooler months. Springtails like stagnant, wet areas and are attracted to light. I’ve seen them as nuisance problems in swimming pools or spas. Leafhoppers, on the other hand, like it hot and dry.
The bottom line in all habitats suitable for springtails is water or wetness. If it’s dry, they will disappear. They must feed and so rotting or decaying plants is important nearby, but water and wetness is more important. So, in our climate oftentimes they are found in irrigated shady spots.
I know what you told me, but the key to managing or eliminating these guys is drying up wet areas. This might be as simple as improving air circulation in that area. Wetness is oftentimes accentuated in darker areas without much air movement or north sides of buildings.
Pesticides do not work in the long haul. It’s really getting the area to dry up will or at least should clean up the problem. Ways to dry it out are to get more air movement in that area and/or more light. The rooting plants (organic matter they use for feed) will eventually disappear with time.
Be careful of excessive irrigation nearby. Do not water daily. Water and then let the surface area dry out.
Use deeper rooted plants in the area if plants are there. Bigger, deep rooted plants can handle longer periods of time without water applied.
If mulch is present, let it dry out before irrigating again or remove it. If rock is used, smaller rock like ¼ inch minus might allow you to keep the area drier and longer times between irrigations.
If it is unbearable then try spraying the area starting in late January with one of the horticultural oils. Spray the surface of the soil in hopes of suffocating them.
I would like you to read the information at this linkhttp://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74136.html