Springtails – Hopping Black Pepper!

Q: We were outside after a rain in mid-December and found trillions of tiny insects that jump like a flea! They were about the size of a grain of finely ground black pepper. Do you know what they are?

A: Remembering the warm weather then, my bet is that they were springtails. These tiny insects hatch in huge numbers when it is warm and damp. Each one has a spring-loaded appendage beneath its abdomen that it releases to jump high above the rest of the crowd. When they are in a mass, the surface looks exactly like hopping black pepper.