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Saturday, 21 October 2017

 

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Springing Springtails
By
Stella M. Turk MBE

Springtail (Anurida maritima) photograph by Steve Hopkin
Springtail (Anurida maritima) photograph by Steve Hopkin


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’

spring.

 

 

Authors 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. Some of his brilliant photographs of springtails can be seen on his website.Quill picture

 

Stella M Turk MBE

May 2008

 

More verses by Stella ....