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What is the purpose of springtails?


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Springtails are used as a clean up crew found in soils. They’re often put into terrariums and vivariums. They feed on decaying organic material and mold. Although I don’t do it myself, I’m sure beetle grubs would benefit from them, as they would feed on grass and mold that may be in the container. I have had some beetle grubs randomly gain springtails in the container, and have noticed significantly less mold in those ones.

 

the only problem arises if you ever need to heat treat your substrate. By heat treating, you will be killing off your springtails as well.

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On 6/23/2022 at 5:38 PM, Allomyrina Dichotoma said:

Doesn't decay make for good food for the larva though? I'm considering springtails to help with my mushroom fly problem, do they help prevent pests? Do you think i should heat the soil first and then add them?

Springtails feed primary on mold rather than other decaying matter. I culture them in cups with only charcoal and water, and they thrive off of the mold of foods I put in there, like grains of rice. But that is a fair point. Mold does aid in the decomposition process. So I’d doubt adding them would really do anything. I haven’t noticed a significant difference between larvae containers where they are present vs where they are not.

Out of all my enclosures, isopods millipedes and what not, I find the ones with springtails in them have the least amount of fungal gnats when I open them up. Some don’t even have gnats in them. I can’t guarantee they eat the larvae of flies, however. Just something I have noticed.
 

They do not need to go into sanitary soil. if your concern is heat treating your substrate beforehand for a different reason, like fly larvae, then yeah add the springtails after. The only reason substrate really needs to be heat treated is if pests are present. Spring tails are generally seen as beneficial so heat treating would kill them too.

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On 6/24/2022 at 6:25 AM, jake7917 said:

Springtails feed primary on mold rather than other decaying matter. I culture them in cups with only charcoal and water, and they thrive off of the mold of foods I put in there, like grains of rice. But that is a fair point. Mold does aid in the decomposition process. So I’d doubt adding them would really do anything. I haven’t noticed a significant difference between larvae containers where they are present vs where they are not.

Out of all my enclosures, isopods millipedes and what not, I find the ones with springtails in them have the least amount of fungal gnats when I open them up. Some don’t even have gnats in them. I can’t guarantee they eat the larvae of flies, however. Just something I have noticed.
 

They do not need to go into sanitary soil. if your concern is heat treating your substrate beforehand for a different reason, like fly larvae, then yeah add the springtails after. The only reason substrate really needs to be heat treated is if pests are present. Spring tails are generally seen as beneficial so heat treating would kill them too.

This is all very informative, thank you!

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