Brassica springtail, common springtail

Scientific name: Bourletiella hortensis
  • Key characteristics
  • Biology
  • Impacts
  • Control

  • Occur throughout New Zealand
  • Cause damage to germinating and newly emerged seedlings
  • Very small brown insects about the size of a pin head
  • Jump when disturbed
  • Detected most easily by placing a white card or cloth on ground and gently disturbing soil.

  • Several species of springtails may cause damage to seedling brassica crops and they occur throughout New Zealand. Bourletiella hortensi is the most common. These are soft bodied insects varying in colour from brown to black and grow up to 1 mm in length. They are a type of Collembola commonly known as globular springtails. This name derives from them appearing to consist of two attached balls (hence globular) and a specialised appendage which enables them to spring very quickly into the air (hence springtail). They live on the soil surface and lay their eggs in the soil. Under moist conditions development is very rapid. Several generations are produced each year.

  • Springtail mouth parts are adapted for chewing. Damage to brassicas and fodder beet may occur as soon as the seed coat is split and the cotyledons begin to emerge. This means that the seedlings are damaged before they emerge from the soil. Initially the stems are attacked but as the seedlings emerge from the soil scalloping of leaf edges, small pits and holes in the leaves become evident
  • Early detection or better still prediction of damage is necessary to avoid seedling loss.

  • Routine spraying or using coated seed can be worthwhile but inspection of the soil to be sown should be undertaken especially if springtails have been a problem in the past. When preventative measures are not applied insecticide should be applied as soon as damage is noticed if it is significant. If the damage is only minor the plants may soon outgrow the impact of springtail feeding
  • Several insecticides are registered against springtails.
Insecticide Application Time of application
Imidaclopirid Seed coating At sowing
Chlorpyrifos Spray From sowing to emergence
Diazinon Spray From sowing to emergence
Dimethoate Spray From sowing to emergence
Fenitrothion Spray From sowing to emergence
Maldison Spray From sowing to emergence
Spinetoram Spray Apply during early post emergence
Terbufos Granule Drill with seed
Phorate Granule Drill with seed