Dicyrtoma spp.

Springtails (Collembola) are ancient and despite having six legs, they are considered to be a sister group to the insects rather than true insects. They are very tiny (often under 1mm) animals that live in cryptic places, such as in and around soil, in leaflitter, and on ponds.

In their hidden world, basically under our feet, they often are strangely shaped and intensely coloured. But what is more, they have an incredible mechanism to jump. Under their belly they have a spring-loaded fork that is locked by something that looks like a belly button. When released, this fork catapults the whole animal into the air. This is a great strategy to escape predators.

Springtails aid with nutrient cycling in the soil, helping to form soil microstructure as well as being a ready supply of food for many predators.

The globular springtails are, as their name suggests, rounded rather than elongated or flattened. They look cute and chubby, often with big, black eye patches and a tendency to turn their heads upwards, as if they were looking back. The freshly hatched baby springtails have even bigger eyes for their size, with the big heads and smaller bodies of most babies across the world. It’s like they just want to be hugged. If only they wouldn’t squash so easily! Dicyrtoma is an especially cute and colourful genus occurring worldwide, with some purple species endemic in Aotearoa.

Check these links for more info on the Globular Springtail in NZ

Manaaki Whenua: Springtails

Wikipedia: Information on Symphypleona

New Zealand Soil Fauna

A Chaos of Delight: Exploring Life in the Soil


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iNaturalist.nz image © Alexis
Manaaki Whenua image @ Andy Murray