Springing Springtails by Stella M. Turk MBE

Although some species are rare
There is a collembolan everywhere
Hot or cold, north to south, east to west
They will find a niche that suits them best.
Leaf litter is favoured, and a few live indoors
Feeding on algae and fungi and spores.
You will find them, white and blind, in dark caves,
Or, blue and velvety, on pools close to waves.
Small purple ones may be in the compost heap;
Turn over a stone, you will see others leap.
‘Snow-fleas’ can make the snow quite dark
And the pests of peas soon leave a big mark.
There can be two million in one metre square
Though a five millimetre ‘monster’ is very rare.
The courtship of some is a strong man test:
He who can push the female is ‘voted’ the best
Those that can jump, use a ‘pogo stick’,*
Releasing the spring with a very quick flick.
*Abdominal segments have 4 and 5 appendages
that are partly fused and form the ‘pogo stick’

Stella M Turk MBE

May 2008

Stellas notes:

A tribute to those primitive insects, the Collembola. Dedicated to Steve Hopkin who tragically died in a road accident in May 2006, soon after he and his wife Ailsa came to live in Cornwall. His many studies included Collembola and his AIDGAP key to the British species has been published posthumously.


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