How to Get Rid of Springtails
Springtails are extremely small insects, about 1 to 2 mm. They often described as tiny jumping bugs and their presence is indicative of problems with excessive moisture. They are often found in basements, kitchens and bathrooms. Homeowners often confuse them with fleas. If you have springtails in the house, it could indicate a problem with mold or fungus. They are often seen traveling in large hopping groups (hence the name springtail).
Make sure not to confuse springtails with mites or fleas. They are of their own class, and the methods for getting rid of any insect depends entirely on your identification skills.
Springtail infestations will occur in any room with windows. In some cases, the age of the home is a contributing factor. This is because tiny cracks in the window sill will occur over time as a direct result of constant sunlight - paint starts to chip, the wood slightly shifts, and window sills begin to show wear from rain water and other climate related variables. In either case, they are a seasonal pest and will not stick around for the long haul.
Springtails are one of those rare pests that, for the most part, will actually disappear on their own with time. Unfortunately, they come back annually if structural problems are left uncorrected.
They can be found naturally outdoors around retention ponds, creeks, lakes, tree stumps, and piles of organic debris such as wood or leaves. We can prevent future infestations by taking a few precautionary steps.
Because the springtail is a moisture loving pest, it is easy to assume that this is the same reason they are found primarily in kitchens and bathrooms. This isn't necessarily true - the reason sightings of springtails occur in such locations can likely be attributed to the fact that 9 out of 10 bathrooms have highly reflective porcelain surfaces (such as tile, toilets, tubs), increasing the overall visibility of springtail activity. It's not likely they are coming in through any air ducts or the attic unless your home is unusually old. An inspection around the house will give us a stronger idea of the source:
- Inspect the perimeter. Pay special attention to window sills, bricking, stucco, decking, or crawl space areas. Are you seeing any signs of stress in the wood or cracking? Are your window screens trapping in rain water?
- AC units produce lots of water. Some lawns have poor drainage, causing any water runoff from the air conditioning unit to pool up and stagnate.
- Consider recent weather patterns. Has it just been really moist and rainy lately or has this been an ongoing problem? Have you had any recent leaks in the house? Are your gutters clogged with leaves?
There is one additional step that needs to be taken, especially with darker bricks and/or homes with dark paint. Because springtails are so very small, it is wise to have something nearby to increase their visibility, such as an envelope or piece of paper. By placing a large white piece of paper around the suspected points of entry, we can quickly detect any activity (you will see a lot of tiny black hopping insects). A spray bottle mixed with water and white vinegar (50:50) can be sprayed around any cracked bricks or wood - this will get rid of any springtails breeding in the cracks, which should then immediately be caulked or sealed.
Bifenthrin, Cyfluthrin, or Pyrethins are all effective springtail insecticides (active ingredients found in commercial and over the counter products). The advantage of these products is in their ability to quickly eliminate springtails and other insects - most products have a residual effect, which means they will hold up for a period of time against rain and sunlight. Powdered insecticides like boric acid and delta dust are excellent for filling wood cavities and cabinet voids.
- Limit interior treatments to cracks and crevices. Try and get product directly into the window sill or any cracks in grout or tile. There is no need to go crazy spraying everything!
- Perform a full perimeter treatment. Pay special attention to areas that are particularly moist or weathered. Doormats and windowsills will often collect lots debris and moisture.
- Inspect along doors and windows to make sure they are properly sealed. Seal with caulk or wood sealant where necessary. Repair any drainage problems outdoors if applicable.
- Consider having your home inspected for mold. This should really only be done if the home is more than 10 years old.
Springtails are much easier to see with a flashlight and against white surfaces. They do not infest homes very often, and leave as fast as they come, often unable to sustain life inside of a home. They are most active in the afternoon and evening, which is also the best time to treat. In large numbers, they are capable of destroying plants and agricultural plots.