Springtails in Alpharetta
Image via Flickr by ronibiza

Springtails, also known as collembolans, are six-legged omnivores that usually feed on decaying plant matter, algae, and fungi. Despite their small size and bug-like appearance, springtails are not insects. They breakdown dead plant material and spread fungal spores, which assists with keeping plants healthy, and since they eat fungi as well, they are beneficial to the ecosystem.

These creatures get their name from their forked, tail-like body section called the furcula, extends from the tip of the abdomen under the body to their head. You may have found these creatures in Alpharetta and suburbs like Buckhead, Virginia-Highland, and Oakdale. The reason for the furcula is to make the springtail spring away when endangered, hence the name. Some species can leap as high as six inches in the air. However, they cannot accurately control where they land. Their furcula is vital to their survival, notwithstanding their poor eyesight and inability to move quickly with their legs.

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