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G'day!

I'm based in Victoria, Australia.

I'm hoping to culture springtails for my terrariums, so I went out and tried to collect some. I found them underneath a rock, which was sitting on damp ground. They certainly look like springtails, and gee they're tiny! 1-2mm. But they don't jump at all.

My first question is -- is this little fella a springtail?

what looks like springtails

Fast forward a few weeks, and these little critters still seem to be alive in a jar. However, what I believe are isopods appear to have joined them. They're super tiny though, < 2mm. And they're always hovering around what appears to be eggs.

Here's two pictures:

what look like isopods around springtail eggs what looks like an isopod eating springtail eggs

I read online about the lifecycle of isopods. They don't lay eggs; rather, the mother keeps them in a pouch on her underside. I also read that, absent better food sources, they can feed on the eggs of other insects.

So what I suspect is, that these are springtail eggs, and the isopods are eating them. Is that a correct assessment? And are these indeed isopods?

Thank you in advance for your help!

TLDR

  • Is the first picture of a springtail?
  • Are the second/third pictures of isopods eating springtail eggs?
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  • $\begingroup$ Look in thick, damp, leaf mulch for springtails $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 8:44
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! The rock I found them underneath was nestled among a fair bit of damp leaf litter and mulch, so I'm hoping they're springtails (other than the fact they don't jump). $\endgroup$
    – Ben B
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 9:11
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    $\begingroup$ All three photos feature springtails (two different families, though). The last photo shows only three pairs of legs, eliminating Isopoda. $\endgroup$
    – user32396
    Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 6:42

1 Answer 1

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It seems like they're both springtail species, as suggested by Arthur's comment.

The white one appears to be a type of folsomia, which is easy enough to guess from the appearance (mine don't jump though, I guess ruling out folsomia candida?).

You can compare it to this image of one, from Wikipedia:

picture of a folsomia springtail, from Wikipedia

I purchased a cheap USB microscope to inspect the second one further. Indeed, as Arthur suggested, it only has three sets of legs: close-up image of a springtail

Additionally, I turned it around and got a look at the underside. I can only guess this is the furcula (though, interestingly, this one doesn't jump either!)?

close up of what I believe to be a springtail's furcula

I'm not sure what the genus is. Could be folsomia, or perhaps hypogastruridae? Either way, they're both springtails! Great news!

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