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Not all animals that we have in the garden are like vermin. Not all insects are pests. There are also species that are useful for the gardener.
The springtails, for example, feed mainly on decayed plant matter, but also of algae or pollen, carrion or are predatory. By eating away everything that's left over anyway, they're doing us some good.
Several species of the leaptail are known to absorb and recover heavy metals from the soil. This causes springtails to become important first colonizers of contaminated soils. They are very useful for example on waste dumps.
Through targeted nutritional choices, the springtails are able to control mineralization processes and thus positively influence plant growth. Spring tails, for example, can also be useful as a fungus eater.
Nevertheless, there are some species of springtail that are harmful, such as the Lucerne flea.
Characteristics of the jumpschänze & worth knowing
- Spring tails reach a body size of about 0.2 millimeters to 1 centimeter and are mainly in the humus layer not to dry soil. However, they can also occur in shore areas or in high mountain areas.
- These animals are wingless, but have a fork that enables them to make extraordinary leaps. They jump incredibly far, but largely uncontrolled, for example, in imminent danger from contact.
- In addition, springtails have mouthparts which lie in a pocket in the mouth and only come out visibly when in use.
- The population of these animals is incredibly high, they are just after the mites numerically the most common arthropods in the soil.
This overview has certainly given you an idea of the fact that a soil populated by springtails does not give your plants the worst culture conditions. So it is, more precisely, your plants are even dependent on the fact that in the ground a lot of "life romps". Because only countless bacteria in the earth ensure that your plants can thrive really well by stabilizing the soil structure, making the soil storable for water and guaranteeing the supply of nutrients. The bacteria, along with mushrooms, also help to break down organic matter and convert it into nutrients that can be absorbed by the plants and are urgently needed. These smallest soil organisms make up about three-quarters of the living mass in the soil, and they serve the larger, single-celled, springtails and woodlice, again as food. In the top 30 cm of a square meter of healthy garden soil, up to 400,000 springtails perform their important work.
The springtails are mainly in the humus layers of all reasonably humid soils in which they work to a depth of several meters, or work near the surface rotting plant material and transform it into humus. They can be found pretty much everywhere: in sand dunes and deserts, in snowy areas and on banks and in rainforests; there are species that live on tree bark and those that prefer water surfaces, springtails are found in the nests of ants and on glaciers. The astonishing ability of some species to process pollutants has been mentioned above, and altogether the springtails are an important link in the chain of soil-processing organisms.
How sensitively the equilibrium of a healthy soil is built up, lets you guess the fact that on a piece of soil there are always just as many spring tails collected, as it is optimal for tillage. Because the amount of springtails adapts to the nutrients, the humidity, the light conditions, the pH value and the shape of the humus, each soil gets the number of springtails he needs. If necessary, it is quite possible to observe masses of people concentrating at a certain point, eg. B. in a fungal infection. The springtails also help to understand why monocultures and "bare" garden soils are so damaging: If springtails in a "clinically pure" culture environment do not find decaying organic substances that are their natural food, they must look for something else to eat then the roots of lonely growing plants...
The springtails are quite amazing animals
Not only because they are so useful is a closer look at the springtails interesting, they have also developed in their evolution, an amazing ingenuity: Above ground springtails are darkly pigmented, partially patterned and heavily hairy, only in the soil living springtails are less colored transparent, fewer eyes develop. The body of the springtails is water-repellent on the surface, they are covered with a protective layer of wax called cuticula, over which they can breathe. This cuticle also allows the animals to move on the surface of the water and, with their help, they survive soil flooding in an air bubble.The springtails have their name from their three-piece fork, which can be stretched in a kind of body hook system and promoted the jumping tail with the above bold jump from any danger. All springtails then have a part called Ventraltubus, with which they can adhere and move on any smooth surface, even vertically.
Spring tails are extremely tough: they survive two weeks floating on the sea, during this time they can be carried several hundred kilometers. In this way, they probably brought their lives to the volcanic island of Surtsey (in the Atlantic Ocean), which was sterile when it was formed. Arctic springtails can survive frozen at minus 20 degrees for 4 years.
Through all these amazing skills, the springtails have managed to rank among the oldest land-living animals on Earth, with 400 million year old springtail fossils found. Is not it always amazing, what diversity and sophistication reveals our immediate environment, if you take a closer look?