Friday 3 February 2012

Globular Springtails

In order to prevent too much dust from gathering on my macro gear over the winter months I always like to have at least one session photographing springtails in my garden. Springtails are tiny invertebrates of the order Collembola (not technically insects) that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The vast majority possess a folded spring-like apendage under their body, called the furcula, which allows them to spring some distance away if threatened. Springtails are very common - if you turn over a rock or a log in your garden the chances are you will see tiny springtails attached to it.

In my opinion, the most photogenic are the Globular Springtails which are 1-3mm in size and can easily be overlooked with the naked eye. Like all springtails, they contain an anti-freeze agent in their blood which enables them to remain active in even the coldest conditions. When magnified they can be seen to be very colourful, highly patterned and, dare I say it, actually quite cute :) I think the following are all the species Dicyrtomina ornata.

All of the following images were taken using my MPE-65mm macro lens, typically at between 3x and 5x magnification.


This one was photographed recently on the underside of a red house brick. 

On a frosty day this springtail was found on the frozen underside of a rock and soon started wandering about when it was exposed to the daylight.

This one was under a piece of sandstone.

This springtail is grooming itself with a globule of liquid that it secreted.

I'm not quite sure what this one was doing, but I've seen several do this. It stopped and waved its front legs, possibly some sort of defence mechanism?

All in all, they're fascinating little creatures!


  1. What fantastic creatures! I want one!
    Superb shots, Matt, as always.

  2. Great crisp shots of such tiny creatures. Love the lil' guy with his arms up... you get such great poses from your models!

  3. Hey, have you ever seen a bunch of these little guys in groups resting on the surface tension of a puddle. I recently saw what I just described and I wonder if they were okay in the puddle or if the fell from a nearby tree?