Q: My friends showed me a very mysterious purple-ish spread on their concrete driveway after a warm rain in December. It is made up of tiny bugs and they are moving slowly. We are concerned about this invasion.
A: Can you say collembola?
The tiny creatures you saw are called springtails. Each one has a teensy forked tail under its abdomen that, when released, vaults the insect a few mm. forward.
Not a speedy mode of travel but, when you’re that tiny, it’s scenic nonetheless. There are more than 200 species of collembola in the world. They live where there is high organic matter content and moisture.
Springtails come in a wide variety of decorator colors, including white, pink, yellow, green, orange, red, blue, and indigo.
I think the oddest tale I ever heard about springtails was the gardener who called me with her portable phone while standing in her garden one morning.
There were so many of the critters traveling in a line that they looked like a dark silver snake. As you can imagine, she was excited!