springtails (Collembola)

▷ springtails help quite effectively to reduce mould growth in incubation boxes for phasmid eggs, as they also feed on mould. I add these to all the incubation boxes

▷ springtails can be found all over the planet - in forests as well as in suburban regions. They are common in leaf litter on the forest floor, and they are often found in household flowerpots. One can easily get springtails from breeders of poison dart frogs and petshops

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Breeding Springtails

  • it is very easy to breed springtails in a plastic box
  • cut a small hole in the plastic box's lid, this opening serves as ventilation
  • fill half of the box with humid Spagnum moss or terrarium bark, then add the springtails to the breeding substrate
  • wheat flour serves as an additional food source. Just strew a bit on top of the breeding substrate once a week. But just as much flour as will be consumed within one week. Otherwise too much mould will grow
  • the hole in the lid must be covered with a fine cloth. For example, one can put the whole lid in a stocking. Otherwise the box will be soon full of fungus gnats (Sciaridae)
  • the breeding substrate should never try out completely, as springtails die if it is too dry. Thus keep the breeding substrate humid, but never soaking wet
  • start a new culture of springtails 1 - 2 times a year, because old cultures can break down almost out of the blue. This is due to the accumulation of waste products in the breeding substrate
  • I have always two springtail breeding boxes - one with a fresher culture and one with the old culture
  • for a new culture, prepare another box with fresh breeding substrate and then add a good number of springtails from the old culture. After 4-6 weeks they will have multiplied manyfolds

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Springtails in incubation boxes for phasmid eggs

  • put some breeding material (which is full of springtails) with a spoon in a sieve. Hold the sieve over a small plastic box, and in a short time many springtails will fall into that box
  • add some springtails to each incubation unit with a small plastic spoon
  • be aware that springtails can indeed harm eggs of some phasmid species. This can happen when
    • there are too many springtails in an incubation box
    • parts of the outer egg-shell of the phasmid eggs are brocken away, e.g. when glued eggs are removed not carefully enough
  • springtails will die if the substrate in the incubation boxes dries dry out completely. Thus living springtails are quite a reliable sign that the humidity in that incubation box is high enough