How to Kill Collembola

Two Methods:Making the Space UninhabitableUsing Pesticides and Similar Extermination Methods

Collembola, also known as springtails, are a common and fairly harmless pest belonging to the hexapod animal class. They don't pose much threat, but if they have become a nuisance indoors or outdoors, there are a few things you can do to get rid of them.

Method 1
Making the Space Uninhabitable

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    Lower the humidity. Collembola are drawn to moisture. If you can improve the air circulation in an infested indoor space, the humidity of that space will drop, and the collembola living there will move away or die off.[1]
    • Open windows and doors inside the home to permit as much natural ventilation as possible.
    • Set up fans in problem areas, like kitchens, bathrooms, and basements, to create artificial sources of air movement.
    • You can also keep conditions drier in a large space by running an air conditioner or a dehumidifier.
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    Remove waterlogged fungi. Mildew and mold grow in areas with a high degree of moisture. Moreover, these fungi will absorb and retain moisture, thereby attracting collembola. You need to remove the fungi and dry out the area to kill the pests living there.[2]
    • Look for fungi in waterlogged areas of the home, like the corners of your basement or your bathtub.
    • Also look for fungi, moss, and algae on the surface of your soil. Remove this soil completely to dispose of the growth.
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    Repair sources of water leaks. In particular, look for leaky pipes and cracks leading to the outside. These areas could be drawing moisture inside, and drawing collembola to the spot. Drying out these sources will dry out the pests thriving on them.[3]
    • Leaky pipes are the most obvious and most common source of excess moisture in the home.
    • Cracks and gaps in your windows and door frames can be another source. Weather-proof your doors and windows as needed to fill in these spaces. Apply caulk to small cracks and crevices as needed.
    • If you have wooden windowsills, they may have undergone water damage due to leaky cracks. Change or treat the damaged wood. Then, prevent further problem by applying a waterproof finish to the wood.
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    Control the amount of water your plants receive. This might be difficult to do with outdoor plants, but if these pests are drawn to your indoor plants, you can usually kill them out by letting the soil of the plant dry out completely before providing more water.[4]
    • It is especially important to let your plants dry out if you are bringing outdoor plants inside.
    • If you have collembola outside, they may already be in your potted plants, regardless of whether or not you see them.
    • Letting the soil dry out for a few days will kill the pests living in the soil and reduce the risk of bringing them inside.
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    Re-pot your plants. When a potted plant is overrun by collembola, the simplest thing to do might be to remove it from its current waterlogged container and put it into another container with well-draining soil and better drainage holes.[5]
    • When re-potting a plant overrun by collembola, gently shake off as much of the soil as possible after removing the plant from its old container. Use as much fresh soil as possible. If you drag too much of the old soil into the new pot, the pests may remain.
    • Consider adding gravel or a similar material to the bottom of the new pot to improve soil drainage. The new container should also have more drainage holes in its bottom than the old container has.
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    Remove possible outdoor breeding sites. You can cut the problem off at the source by removing as much decayed organic material from your yard as possible. Collembola like to breed in those areas, so removing them will kills off the young pests already living there and prevent new ones from developing.[6]
    • When collembola have made their way inside your home, focus on clearing away breeding grounds near the perimeter of your house.
    • Piles of decaying leaves, mulch, and grass clippings can attract these pests. Mulch, especially, should only be 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) deep to avoid attracting collembola.

Method 2
Using Pesticides and Similar Extermination Methods

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    Apply an indoor insecticide. Look for an aerosol spray formulated for indoor use and apply it to areas where you have seen collembola and areas you suspect the collembola might be passing through.[7]
    • Most indoor insecticides used against collembola contain bifenthrin, carbaryl, or diazinon.
    • Some insecticides may also contain chlorpyrifos, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, or prallethrin.
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    Apply an outdoor insecticide. If the majority of the infestation is outside, purchase a pesticide specifically formulated for outdoor use and apply it to mulch, soil, or other areas housing the collembola.[8]
    • Most outdoor insecticides used against collembola contain bifenthrin, carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, deltamethrin, or diazinon. Some may also contain fluvalinate, malathion, prallethrin, or pyrethrins.
    • You can apply outdoor pesticides as barrier treatments so that the pests will die as they try to enter your house, or you can apply the pesticide as a broadcast treatment to kill the collembola living in a known source of infestation.
    • Apply outdoor pesticides in the afternoon and early evenings, when collembola are the most active.
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    Wash them away with soapy water. For a more natural pesticide, simply mix some liquid soap and water in a spray bottle and get to work. Spray any area where you spot collembola crawling around, as well as any area where you've spotted them in the past.[9]
    • Collembola are so small that you will not have much luck sweeping them away with a broom. Spraying water at these pests is the only way to physically remove them.
    • If you want to remove and kill the collembola, you will need to mix in about 1 Tbsp (15 ml) of dish soap for every 2 cups (500 ml) of water. The soap coats the pests, causing them to suffocate.
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    Hire a professional. While it is rare, major collembola infestations may require the help of a professional exterminator who can legally handle stronger chemicals.[10]
    • Be aware that even a professional pest control service won't be able to get rid of your collembola infestation quickly. You'll likely see continue to see signs of the springtails emerging from underground, below concrete slabs, beneath foundations, etc.
    • Complete eradication may require 2-3 treatments.


  • Note that collembola can be a good sign. Their presence in outdoor soil indicates that the soil retains water well and contains a decent amount of organic matter.
  • Collembola can even be beneficial since they help break down the organic material they live on.


  • Be careful when using pesticides. Follow the label carefully to reduce the potential threat these chemicals can pose.
  • Always keep chemicals out of the reach of pets and children.

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Categories: Home and Garden