Dr Peter Shaw, one of Britain's few Collembola experts identified the following 16 species he collected in the Natural History Museum's Wildlife Garden, during a Wildlife Gardening Forum conference in 2015.
Lepidocyrtus 'cyaneus' (this has several cryptic species)
Lepidocyrtus 'lanuginosus' (this has several cryptic species)
Life cycle of springtails
Springtails deposit eggs in the soil and leaf litter. These hatch into smaller versions of the adult animal. They shed their outer skin on several occasions as they develop through to maturity Unlike true insects, springtails also continue to shed their outer skin as many as 50 times after they have become adults. Furthermore, when times are diffocult, they have the useful ability to shrink between moults, so needing less food. The life cycle from egg to adult can be completed in a few weeks during the summer.
Role of springtails in gardens
Springtails feed mainly on dead plant material that is decaying. In doing so they are helping to fragment the material and are an important part of the composting process and nutrient recycling. Although some springtail species can nibble seedlings, they do not cause damage to garden plants or houseplants. Springtails can be extremely abundant in the soil, leaf litter and compost heaps. They are a major source of food for many predatory invertebrates such as centipedes, ground beetles and staphylinid beetles, prey on them.
Two-pronged bristletails - the Diplura
UK and Irish diplurans are similar in size to springtails, but they lack the jumping furcula, and instead have two posterior cerci
. The British and Irish species all have very long cerci, but in other families they short and pincer-like, remininscent of those of earwigs. They are usually colourless, and lack eyes, relying on long sensory antennae. Like springtails they are cryptic, living in leaf litter and soil, and are rarely seen unless looked for. They feed on dead organic matter, and some are predatory. There are only 12 species in Britain and Ireland, all in the genus Campodea