Friday, June 9, 2017

Springtails walking on water

Springtails are probably the most numerous animals in our garden composting bins. Every time I lift the lids I can see hundreds jumping around on the surface of the decaying kitchen waste and rotting garden weeds.

Recently, after heavy rain, I saw them in a new context. A container beside one bin had filled with rainwater and I noticed little pale grey patches floating on the surface.

A close look revealed that they were springtails. 

Individually these tiny animals are rather cute, so light that they barely dimple the water surface. 

Collectively, there were hundreds of them floating in huddled groups on the meniscus.

The springtails could easily escape the surface tension, using the little device in their tail called a furcula, that acts rather like a pole vaulter's pole when it's straightened, catapulting the animal into the air.

In this picture you can also see a tiny brown tick floating amongst the springtails.

How they all came to be on the water surface is a mystery.

There are more pictures of springtails here 

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