Insect logo



HomeWho We Are List of Orders References Contact Us

Insect Identification Key
Order Collembola: the springtails and snowfleas

Springtail
This globular springtail (family Sminthuridae) is a tiny organism. The collophore and furcula are out of sight, but its long antennae are clearly visible. Photo credit: Tim Evison. Click here to see examples of more members of this interesting order!

Based on your answers to the questions, you have identified your specimen as being in the order Collembola!

Members of this order include: springtails and snowfleas.

Etymology: Collembola comes from the Greek words kolla, which means glue, and embolon, which means peg. This refers to the tube-like structure on its ventral (belly) side. The structure was once thought to be an adhesive appendage, but scientists now know that the organism uses it to excrete fluids.

General characteristics:
• small
• usually eyeless
• wingless
• soft-bodied
• possess a forked springing organ, called the furculum, on the ventral side
• possess a tube-like structure, called the collophore, on the ventral side
• six or fewer abdominal segments
direct development (nymphs and adults nearly indistinguishable)

Click here to see examples of more members of this interesting order!

Springtail
This illustration shows two characteristic features of members of this order: the collophore (center), a tube-like structure used to secrete fluids; and the furculum (lower left arrow). The furculum is a springing organ. The organism holds the furculum against its ventral (belly) side with a latch. When the latch releases, the furculum releases, snaps against the ground and sends the organism into the air. Illustration credit: Leslie Mertz.

Number of recognized species worldwide: about 6,000

Classification:

Kingdom Animalia
   Phylum Arthropoda
      Subplylum Hexapoda
         Class Entognatha
            Order Collembola

For a list of all of the orders in this key, click here: List of Orders.

Classification note: Like members of the orders Diplura and Protura, those in the order Collembola are not insects. These three orders are sometimes grouped together within a class called Entognatha. Along with insects, which are in the class Insecta, they make up the subplylum Hexapoda, a reference to their six legs. Formerly, Protura, Diplura and Collembola were grouped with the order Thysanura into the class Apterygota, and you may still come across this old classification system. The three orders were removed from class Apterygota and put into their own class once scientists determined that they were not in the evolutionary lineage of insects. In other words, these three orders did not give rise to modern-day insects.

Scientists are still working out the tree of life for Protura, Diplura and Collembola. Some authorities have taken Diplura out of the Class Entognatha and put the order into its own class, often simply called Class Diplura. Other authorities have put each of the three orders into its own class: Class Protura, Class Diplura and Class Collembola.

Although their name might suggest otherwise, snowfleas aren’t fleas. True fleas on in the order Siphonaptera. Snowfleas are in the order Collembola.

Oops! If this doesn't appear to be the order for your insect, go back through the key and look more carefully at your insect while answering the questions again. Your perseverance will reward you!

I would like to return to the start of this key.





HomeWho We Are List of Orders References Contact Us

Unless noted otherwise, photographs on this website are the property of the photographers and may not be reused without written permission from the photographers. To obtain permission, email the photographers here. High-resolution versions of the photographs are available.

Photos at the top of this website are (from left to right): potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) — photo credit: Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture; ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)— photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens) — photo credit: Natalie Allen and Stephanie Kolski, U.S. Geological Survey; preying mantis, monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), hellgrammite (aka toe biter) larva and eyed click beetle (Alaus oculatus) — photo credit: Leslie Mertz, DailyGraceCards.com; Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina) — photo credit: Kay Meng, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

© 2012 GoExploreMichigan Media. Reproduction of material from any GoExploreMichigan Media webpages without written permission is strictly prohibited.