How to Get Rid of Collembola
(Also Known As Snow Fleas, Springtails and Ectoparasites)
Where do collembola come from? Do Springtails bite? Can springtails infest human hair and skin? Can pets spread or disperse collembola? Are springtails hard to kill? How can collembola be eliminated? Are topical insecticides safe?
If you’ve never heard of Collembola, you’re not alone. Until recent years, it was thought that these soil dwelling organisms were essentially harmless. Even doctors vehemently denied that springtails were likely to infest human hair and skin. Folks who suffered from chronic itching, biting and crawling sensations were often considered delusional, but that mindset has been questioned by more than one expert.
- Researchers at the Oklahoma State Department of Health took skin samples from 20 patients diagnosed with delusional parasitosis and found Collembola in 18 of the 20 patients. Extensive scrutiny using advanced imaging software was necessary to detect the microscopic nymphs.
- In an unrelated investigation, Dr. Frans Janssens of Sweden and his colleague, Dr. Kenneth A. Christiansen, collected scores of reports regarding human springtail infestation from homeowners, doctors and pest control operators around the world, including many regions of the United States. Within the gray areas between casual testimony and concrete medical documentation, a startling picture emerged. Unexplained itching and crawling sensations often coincide with springtail infestations in mold ridden buildings. The two researchers concluded that the topic of human springtail infestation deserves much more scientific scrutiny.
In its own study, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) concluded that victims of delusional parasitosis are not infested by real organisms. Critics of the study charged that the CDC purposely selected candidates from an unsuitable HMO database to build a sample population that would yield results more consistent with mainstream medical opinion.
Politics aside, homeowners generally agree that springtails are not welcome guests. Who wouldn’t be a little disturbed by the sight of tiny specks jumping around the bathtub or moving down the basement wall? In severe cases, springtails can aggregate and swarm by the millions. You don’t have to be crazy to want them gone.
Although the medical community doesn’t believe that springtails are capable of infesting humans, there is no dispute that they may cause some degree of irritation if they happen to come in contact with human skin. Note that there are approximately 700 species of springtails in North America. Some are smooth, while others have bristles resembling spikes that are purported to cause the irritation. Also note that contact dermatitis is quite different from parasitic infestation. In other words, springtails aren’t known for burrowing like scabies mites. Some species have mouth parts designed for biting, while others are equipped for sucking. They may possess the capability to bite humans, but it doesn’t mean it’s a common occurrence. They are specifically attracted to mold, algae and decaying matter.
As inhabitants of fertile soil, springtails are likely to be found just about anywhere on the planet. They are considered to be the most abundant arthropods on earth. The more you water the lawn and apply fertilizer, the happier they’ll be. Their primary function is to break down decaying matter such as rotting mulch or leaf litter. Since prehistoric times, they have survived frigid winters and brutally hot summers, but their numbers decrease exponentially under dry conditions.
In residential cases, Springtails are known to multiply under damp wood floors and breed behind damp or decaying wood siding. They love mulch beds, wet basements, bathroom floors, kitchen sink cabinets and other areas where mold flourishes. On a hot day, they may swarm over the side of a building in great numbers, increasing the chance of indoor infestation through window screens, pipeline channels and cracks around a building’s foundation. For this reason, it’s particularly important to treat around the foundation of a home and soak any landscaping materials that butt up against basement windows. Our organic outdoor formula destroys springtails AND the mold they feed upon. Our organic indoor formula is designed to treat carpets, bedding and furniture without staining. It can also be applied directly to human skin and pet fur.
Pet owners are particularly vulnerable to collembola infestation. Although springtails aren’t genetically inclined to seek animals as hosts, they can inadvertently be picked up by dogs and cats who trample through moist soil or wet grass. Once transported into the home, they can easily transfer from one surface to another. Close contact isn’t necessary. These acrobatic creatures can jump three to four feet. You may not notice them moving about. They can be smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. Nymphs or hatchlings can be invisible to the naked eye.
If the thought of a few springtails in the house makes you nervous, take a deep breath and relax. Their ability to divide and conquer will largely depend upon environmental factors. Do you enjoy growing plants indoors? Does your basement tend to flood after a good rain? Has pet urine created a moldy environment underneath your carpeting? Can you still smell mold after the bathroom has been cleaned? Are you waiting on a plumber to fix that leaky pipe under the kitchen sink? Who was president the last time you cleaned your air ducts? A moist, moldy environment is like Disneyland to a springtail.
Getting rid of an advanced collembola infestation can be difficult because springtails are notoriously resistant to chemicals. Decade after decade of dwelling in pesticide soaked soils has contributed to this resistance. Luckily, springtails breathe through their outer shell, which is very soft and thin. They are thus highly sensitive to strong aromatic oils. Cedar oil is a BASE NOTE. In the world of aroma therapy and perfume making, a top note is defined as the first scent you detect in a perfume blend. The base note is the lingering essence that stays with you long after the top note has faded.
Indoor Eradication Kit: $150.00+$20.00 S&H
Kit includes one gallon of our indoor cedar oil formula, one 32 ounce spray bottle for quick touch ups and a professional compression sprayer for even application to wide areas. The compression sprayer allows homeowners to achieve professional results by spreading our product over wide areas more easily. Kit treats 1,250 square feet (approximately five average sized rooms). The protocol for springtail treatment is to spray the home twice within 72 hours. Advanced or chronic cases may require the use of a fog machine, which can be found on the page where our indoor formula is sold. We are continually amazed by the number of customers who report that their homes have been infested for more than six months. Usually, infestations begin in the summer and last through the winter. If your case is chronic, a fog machine is ideal. If you’re not quite sure if the offending organism is a springtail or a mite, place glue boards around the home to collect samples and study the tiny specks with a magnifying glass. Most mites look like tiny spiders. Springtails have segmented bodies with distinctive tails, though the tails might not always be visible when they are tucked under the body. For sample photos, use Google image search.
Step By Step Guide to Eliminate Collembola Infestation:
1.) Spray couches, beds and carpets with our indoor formula. Unlike typical aroma therapy grade cedar oil, our formula is carefully filtered, steam distilled and specifically formulated not to stain fabric. As an organic contact killer, it can also be sprayed on human skin to treat fleas, ticks and mites.
2.) Don’t forget to examine wood floors beneath carpeting. Loosen staples in the corners and roll back carpeting to search for wet or moldy areas. (A magnifying glass may help you spot micro tiny organisms.) This step should be considered a mandatory part of your inspection, especially if you have pets. Spots of urine that have been cleaned with soap and water can remain moist for long periods of time. Moisture trapped inside carpet padding creates an environment conducive to mold. Be especially cautious in rooms that have been steam cleaned multiple times. Steam cleaners are well known to leave carpets wet right down the the padding. Although your carpet may feel dry on the surface, it could be holding mold and moisture beneath the surface.
3.) Examine wood and tile floors for evidence of mold and mildew. It can often be spotted growing between hairline cracks and crevices. In many cases, it can be detected by sense of smell. Our popular wood sealant penetrates DEEP to kill termites living within wood. It also kills a wide variety of insects that are inclined to breed under moldy wood floors. (Note that our wood sealant is not related to our indoor spray formula for carpets and furniture. It’s specifically designed to kill insects living within wood.)
4.) Use a cedar oil fog machine to penetrate unseen cracks and crevices in the home. With many types of insect infestations, fogging is considered optional, but chronic or advanced springtail and mite infestations require aggressive measures. Dry fogging produces a condition known as “crowding.” Air molecules are literally crowded out of a space so that there’s nothing left for the offending organism to breath but our product. Both springtails and mites breathe through pores in their bodies. Springtails have an especially thin cuticle that allows water to pass through. They are thus very sensitive to fumes.
5.) Fog air ducts or hire a professional air duct cleaning company. It’s not uncommon for mold to develop in heating and cooling systems from the condensation accumulated in air conditioning units. Springtails feed upon mold and thrive in moist conditions. Mold can also aggravate asthma and allergies. Air duct treatment will address all of these difficulties.
6.) Purchase the highest quality furnace filters available at your local store. Filters designed for allergen and dust mite removal are best. Change filters frequently.
7.) Hunt for places where moisture accumulates. Patch leaky roofs and pipes. Seal cracks around basement windows. Pay special attention to bathroom walls and cabinets under sinks.
8.) Remove household plants, especially decorative trees sitting in large potted containers filled with soil. Remember that springtails are often transported directly into the home via potting soil. (Also beware of decorative wreaths made of dried flowers, as springtails love dead or decaying plants.)
9.) If you’re worried about advanced springtail populations in the soil surrounding your home, there are super strength cedar oil concentrates designed to control flea and tick populations in the grass. Pet breeders, horse keepers and livestock farmers use cedar oil concentrates to control parasites in barns, pens and pastures. A generous treatment early in the spring or summer will break the egg layer cycles and control populations before they explode. It’s particularly important to treat mulch beds and grassy areas that touch the perimeter of your home, as springtails often enter homes through cracks around the foundation.
10.) Last but not least, avoid chemical pesticides. In February of 2011, USA Today ran an article titled “Exposure to Pesticides in Womb Linked to Learning Disabilities.” The study focused on peremethrin, a chemical commonly used to battle household pests. As disturbing as this sounds, the topic is nothing new. Scores of scientific studies have linked chemical pesticides to neurological disorders, breast cancer and birth defects in children living near farms where chemicals are sprayed. In a nationally televised ABC World News investigation, spot drop flea and tick medicines were found to cause 44,000 severe reactions in a single year, including multiple deaths.
Your Safety is Important to Us!
Our pesticides are 100% organic and approved by NOP and other certification agencies. Our product line has earned the USDA Certified Biobased Product Label for its PCO Choice. As with any pesticide, chemical or natural, our topical formulas should not be ingested by humans or animals. Direct eye contact should be avoided. A mask should be worn when using ANY type of fogging solution for pest control purposes, including organic fog solutions. Prior to fogging, humans and animals should be removed from the home, pilot lights should be turned off and smoke alarms should be disabled. Occupants may return in 4 to 5 hours. Do not spray cedar oil (or any other type of pesticide) into flames or electrical outlets. Should our customers, affiliates or retailers use our products or advise others to use our products without reading instructions, Cedar Oil Solutions will not be held responsible for medical consequences or property damage. Cats treated with cedar oil for fleas should wear Elizabethan cones to prevent them from licking and grooming their fur during treatment. E-cones are widely available at pet stores to prevent cats from licking wounds and surgical incisions. In rare cases, ingestion of this product may cause lethargy or vomiting in cats. The same is true of ANY flea product or shampoo, be it chemical or natural.