What Are These Tiny Black Bugs That Jump?

Tips for Controlling Springtails


Andy Murray/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Occasionally, springtails—tiny black bugs that jump—will migrate indoors during periods of heavy rains, or during prolonged hot, dry spells. If you have houseplants, they may have been living in the potting soil and simply escaped their pots. Homeowners may also find springtails around the outside of their homes, in driveways, or near the swimming pool. People often describe them as looking like a "pile of soot" on the sidewalk. They've also earned the nickname "snowfleas" when found on melting snow.

Key Takeaways: Springtails

  • Springtails will not harm you, your pets, or your home
  • Springtails won't reproduce indoors.
  • You don't need bug bombs, pesticides, or an exterminator to control springtails in your home
  • To get rid of springtails, simply remove those springtails you find with a broom, and make your home inhospitable by eliminating moisture and humidity

What Are They?

So what are springtails, exactly? Springtails are decomposers that typically feed on decaying organic matter, including plants, fungi, bacteria, and algae. They're quite tiny, measuring a mere 1/16th of an inch long as adults, and lack wings. Springtails are named for an unusual structure called a furcula, which folds beneath the abdomen like a tail. When a springtail senses danger, it whips the furcula against the ground, effectively propelling itself into the air and away from the threat. In the past, springtails were considered primitive insects, but today many entomologists call them entognathas rather than insects.

Like most decomposers, springtails prefer a moist, humid environment. When springtails invade homes, it's usually because conditions outdoors have become inhospitable, and they're seeking a location with appropriate humidity and moisture. This is also why they sometimes aggregate around swimming pools, or around muddy areas of the yard.

How to Get Rid of Springtails

Let me emphasize this again: springtails will not harm you, your pets, or your home. Only in rare circumstances will they even do damage to your houseplants. They won't reproduce indoors, so all you need to do is eliminate the springtails you've found. They are a nuisance in the home, but not a cause for serious concern. So please, don't run out and buy a bunch of bug bombs to exterminate them. You don't need pesticides or an exterminator to control springtails in your home.

To get rid of springtails, you only need to do two things: remove the springtails you find, and make your home inhospitable to them so they don't return later. Grab a broom and a dustpan and sweep up any springtails you find. Springtails sometimes aggregate on window screens and door frames, so check those areas and sweep them up, too.

Now, to keep any more springtails from making their way indoors, eliminate the conditions that springtails prefer – moisture and humidity. Install a dehumidifier if your home is humid. Fix leaking pipes and address moisture problems in basements. It also helps to bug-proof your home.

If you suspect your houseplants were the source of the springtail problem, let your plants dry out completely before watering them again. Don't overwinter mulched container plants from outdoors in your home.

Sometimes, springtails wind up floating on the surface of the swimming pool. Just skim them out of the water as you would other debris floating in your pool.

Additional Sources

Springtails, University of Rhode Island, accessed March 15, 2012

Springtails Management Guidelines--UC IPM, accessed March 15, 2012

Planttalk Colorado - Springtails, accessed March 15, 2012

Control of Springtails/Collembola in Gardens, Homes | Do Collembola Infest Humans/Homes?, accessed March 15, 2012

View Article Sources
  1. Koehler, P.G., M. L. Aparicio, and M. Pfiester. "Springtails." IFAS Fact Sheet, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, 2017. 

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Hadley, Debbie. "What Are These Tiny Black Bugs That Jump?" ThoughtCo, Sep. 9, 2021, thoughtco.com/what-are-these-tiny-black-bugs-that-jump-1968031. Hadley, Debbie. (2021, September 9). What Are These Tiny Black Bugs That Jump? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-these-tiny-black-bugs-that-jump-1968031 Hadley, Debbie. "What Are These Tiny Black Bugs That Jump?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-these-tiny-black-bugs-that-jump-1968031 (accessed March 24, 2023).

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