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We have been finding a ton of these tiny bugs (pin head size or smaller) outside on our patios, outdoor tables, on the grill, etc.

What are they and how do we get rid of them?


2 Answers 2


These bugs are a type of hexapod called springtails (subclass Collembola). Springtails are often very tiny and hard to see without a lens, so I have to say you did a good job grabbing a fairly detailed picture of this one. Specifically, your specimen appears to be some species in the order Entomobryomorpha.

According to Wikipedia:

They can be best distinguished from the other springtail groups by their body shape...The Entomobryomorpha...contain the slimmest springtails [with]...long bodies. [They also have] well-developed furculae

Specific species:

Usually, IDing springtails is very difficult, but I believe your specimen matches a fairly widespread species called Entomobrya nivalis (aptly named the cosmopolitan springtail).

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Source: Wikipedia; photo credit: James Keith Lindsey

The description of this species matches yours fairly well. From Wikipedia:

The cosmopolitan springtail measures about 2 mm in length. Its color consists of a yellow or white background with dark pigment forming transversal bands along the third segment of the thorax and the segments 2 to 6 of the abdomen. The fourth segment of the abdomen has a U- or 11-shaped pattern that easily distinguishes this species from others in the genus Entomobrya+

Somewhat true to its name, this somewhat cosmopolitan species is found in temperate and polar regions across North America and Europe+. Adults typically live among lichens and trees (whereas young live in leaf litter), however, according to NC State Extension:

Rarely springtails may become exceedingly abundant and may congregate in heaps several inches high on driveways, sidewalks and poolsides.

So what exactly is a springtail??

In general, springtails usually feed on decaying matter, and -- you guessed it -- they're known for their ability to jump!

Springtails are so-called because they have a unique structure, the furcula, that allows them to jump for considerable distance relative to their tiny size. [source].

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Springing mechanism of a generalized springtail. Credit: Marianne Alleyne [Source]

+ Wikipedia cites Katz, A.D.; Giordano, R.; Soto-Adames, F. (2015). "Taxonomic review and phylogenetic analysis of fifteen North American Entomobrya (Collembola, Entomobryidae), including four new species". ZooKeys. 525. doi:10.3897/zookeys.525.6020


Those are Collembola, something in the line of this genus https://bugguide.net/node/view/91878. They are harmless to humans, usually live in the leaf litter and I don't know if there's really anything you can do to control them. Let's see if any expert in Collembola chimes in.


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