Extension Logo
Extension Logo
University of Minnesota Extension


Quick facts

  • Springtails are found in areas of high moisture and in organic debris.
  • They can be annoying but do not damage food, clothes, furniture or property. 
  • Springtails do not bite or sting and are harmless to people and animals.
  • They feed on decaying roots and fungi and rarely damage plants.
  • Moisture control is the most effective option for controlling springtails.

How to tell springtails from other small insects

Many light colored flea-like insects on a dark background
Common soil springtail

Most springtails are dark-colored, brown, grey or black. Some species may be white and some are even brightly colored.

  • Usually slender, elongated insects, but there is a group that is round and stout.
  • Very small, between 1/16th and 1/8th inch long. 
  • Moderate length antennae.

Springtails do not have wings and cannot fly. But they can jump up to several inches using a special forked structure under the abdomen.

Yellowish flea-like insect with 6 legs, 2 antennae, and a tail-like structure

Springtails and fleas may be the same size but have differences in their structure.

  • Fleas are flattened from side to side and have very hard bodies, making them difficult to kill by crushing.
  • Springtails have a more rounded, soft body and are easily crushed.
Insect with a rounded body and head crawling on a net.
Globular springtail. Photo: Bugwood.org



  • Find springtails in areas of high moisture and condensation (around plumbing leaks in bathrooms, basements and kitchens).
  • Springtails are commonly found in the soil of overwatered houseplants.
  • They prefer soil that is excessively damp or soil mixes that contain a high percentage of peat.


  • Outdoors, springtails can be found feeding on fungi, pollen, algae or decaying organic matter, often on or in the soil.
  • You can find lots of springtails in mulch.
  • Some species of springtail feed on living plants, especially the leaves of young plants.
    • Damage can appear as a series of tiny holes in the leaf.
    • Leaf-feeding damage is typically very minimal.

Springtails in winter

Four black-colored flea-like insects on snow.
  • Snowflea (Hypogastruna nivicola) is a springtail species that is active during winter and seen on snow.
  • Snowfleas become active as soon as the ground begins to thaw in late winter or very early spring.
  • They are generally found in groups and their dark-colored bodies are easily noticed against white snow.

Managing springtails in homes and gardens

When you see large numbers of springtails, it means there is a high moisture problem. Springtails are generally a temporary problem and die when moisture levels are reduced.

In homes

Check for moisture problems inside and outside of the house.

Moisture-causing issues:

  • Rainspouts that do not carry water far enough away from the foundation.
  • Landscapes that slope towards buildings.
  • Excessive irrigation.
  • Non-functioning drainage systems around the building.
  • Plumbing leaks inside the home. 

If you see small numbers of springtails, ignore them or physically remove them by hand or with a vacuum. For larger infestations:

  • Dry out wet areas with a fan or dehumidifier. 
  • Remove wet wood, especially if it is moldy.
  • Make structural changes to correct moisture problems.
  • Remove or reduce the amount of mulch around the foundation of your home.

If you have a problem with springtails in houseplants, let the soil dry out and water less frequently but more deeply.

Pesticides are not effective against springtails and should not be used inside the home for these insects.

In gardens

  • Damage is minor enough to not be of concern.
  • If you are seeing lots of damage, reduce the amount of decaying plant matter in the garden before planting next year.
  • Most pesticides are not effective against springtails, and damage is minor enough to not warrant their use.

Managing springtails on farms

Cultural controls 

Springtails feed on organic matter, so if you are seeing consistent springtail damage, avoid planting into fields with high levels of crop residue or recently terminated cover crops.

Using insecticides

  • Pesticides are generally not necessary for springtail management as damage is so sporadic.
  • Many products with springtails on the label are for turf or ornamental plants, not vegetables for field crops.

Authors: Marissa Schuh, Extension educator; Bill Hutchinson, Bob Koch, and Stephen Kells, Extension entomologists; Jeffrey Hahn, former Extension entomologist, and Maria Corillo

Reviewed in 2024

Page survey

© 2024 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.