springtail


springtail
/spring"tayl'/, n.
any of numerous minute, wingless primitive insects of the order Collembola, most possessing a special abdominal appendage for jumping that allows for the nearly perpetual springing pattern characteristic of the group.
[1790-1800; SPRING + TAIL1]

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insect
 any of approximately 6,000 small, primitive, wingless insects that range in length from 1 to 10 mm (0.04 to 0.4 inch). Most species are characterized by a forked appendage (furcula) attached at the end of the abdomen and held in place under tension from the tenaculum, a clasplike structure formed by a pair of appendages. Although the furcula provides a jumping apparatus for the collembolan, enabling it to catapult itself (hence the common name springtail), the usual method of locomotion is crawling. Springtails also have a ventral abdominal, suckerlike tube (collaphore), which secretes a sticky, adhesive substance and also takes up water. The young hatch from spherical eggs and closely resemble the adult. There can be 3 to 12 molts before maturity and up to about 50 molts during the lifetime of a springtail.

      The springtail, found in all types of soil and leaf litter throughout the world from Antarctica to the Arctic, is one of the most widely distributed insects. They are among the few species of insects that are permanent residents of Antarctica. Certain springtails known as snow fleas are active at near-freezing temperatures and may appear in large numbers on snow surfaces. Springtails live in soil and on water and feed on decaying vegetable matter, sometimes damaging garden crops and mushrooms. The small (2 mm long), green-coloured lucerne flea (Sminthurus viridis), one of the most common species, is a serious pest to crops in Australia. When necessary, insecticides are used to control springtails. Fossil springtails are among the oldest insect fossils known.

      Depending on the classification scheme, springtails may be considered to be true insects (class Insecta) or in a group (class Parainsecta) closely related to the insects.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Springtail — Spring tail ( t[=a]l ), n. (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of numerous species of small apterous insects belonging to the order {Thysanura}. They have two elastic caudal stylets which can be bent under the abdomen and then suddenly extended like a spring,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • springtail — [spriŋ′tāl΄] any of an order (Collembola) of small, primitive, wingless insects, able to leap great distances by the sudden release of a forklike, abdominal appendage …   English World dictionary

  • Springtail — Springtails Temporal range: Early Devonian–Recent …   Wikipedia

  • springtail — Pintail Pin tail , n. 1. (Zo[ o]l.) A northern duck ({Dafila acuta}), native of both continents. The adult male has a long, tapering tail. Called also {gray duck}, {piketail}, {piket tail}, {spike tail}, {split tail}, {springtail}, {sea pheasant} …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • springtail — Pintail Pin tail , n. 1. (Zo[ o]l.) A northern duck ({Dafila acuta}), native of both continents. The adult male has a long, tapering tail. Called also {gray duck}, {piketail}, {piket tail}, {spike tail}, {split tail}, {springtail}, {sea pheasant} …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • springtail — noun Date: circa 1797 any of an order (Collembola) of small primitive wingless insects that exhibit incomplete metamorphosis and usually possess a furcula used for jumping called also collembolan …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • springtail — noun Any of various wingless insects, of the order Collembola, that have spring like legs …   Wiktionary

  • springtail — noun a minute wingless insect which has a springlike organ under the abdomen that enables it to leap when disturbed. [Order Collembola.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • springtail — spring•tail [[t]ˈsprɪŋˌteɪl[/t]] n. ent any of numerous minute, wingless primitive insects of the order Collembola, most possessing a special abdominal appendage for jumping • Etymology: 1790–1800 …   From formal English to slang

  • springtail — /ˈsprɪŋteɪl/ (say springtayl) noun any of various wingless insects of the order Collembola, having a pair of elastic tail like appendages which are ordinarily folded under the abdomen, but when suddenly extended enable the insect to spring into… …   Australian English dictionary


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