From time to time we hear from a lot of people who have problems with a tiny, brown hopping insect around or in their homes. These tiny creatures are springtails.
These insects can build up large populations in moist soil, organic debris or in homes with high humidity.
As much as it may be thought they are here to be a pest, their job is to feed on decaying, damp vegetation. They help the composting process by breaking down material to smaller pieces so the nutrients can be recycled in the soil.
Usually, springtails stay outside among the mulched areas of the yard. But on occasion, you will find them in the home around sources of moisture like sinks, bathtubs and toilets.
Keeping these areas as dry as possible is the first step in controlling springtails in the home. In a dry environment, springtails will eventually dry out and die. So controlling moisture and encouraging good air flow is one of the simplest ways to control for them.
Another way to control for springtails without using chemicals is to seal any cracks and apply weather stripping at windows and doors to keep them from entering the home.
Chemical control can be effective as well. Concentrate insecticide applications around windows and doors. Also, spraying around bathroom plumbing where the pipes come up from the basement or crawlspace will be effective.
Use an insecticide that is labeled for inside use. Many usually come in ready-to-use containers and are diluted to the proper concentration.
Around the outside of the house, apply insecticides with plenty of water in order to get the chemical through the mulch and soil layers. Usually a hose-end sprayer will apply enough water with the chemical to get the job done correctly.
Use an insecticide that is concentrated and needs to be diluted when applied. This will be more effective and cheaper than using a ready-to-use product.
One other suggestion is to move any mulch away from the foundation of your home. Not only will this help reduce the infestation of termites or scorpions by not allowing them a direct pathway to get to the foundation, but also it will allow you to effectively spray in the soil layers.
Springtails are not going to cause major harm to your home, but they sure are annoying and unsettling for most people. If you have any questions, give the office a call.
Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, www.hallcounty.org/extension. His column appears weekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.