June 22, 2009
It had rained during the first night we were at Mounthaven so everything was damp when I went out to explore after breakfast. I noticed the bark on some of the Hemlock trees looked reddish. When I looked closer, I noticed thousands of these tiny red springtails crawling on the tree.
***Update***Thanks to Dr. Frans Janssens (University of Antwerp, Belgium) for his help in identifying these creatures through an ID request on Bugguide.net! Here is his quote: "Not Entomobryomorpha but Poduromorpha.
Family most probably Neanuridae, given the distinct red colour and if and when they did not jump away, but crawled away, when disturbed: subfamily Neanurinae.
To distinguish Entomobryomorpha from Poduromorpha:
Poduromorpha typically have short legs and antennae while Entomobryomorpha typically have long legs and antennae. Although there are ofcourse exceptions: Entomobryomorpha adapted to live in the soil also have short legs and antennae. To be sure, check the presence or absence of the 1st thoracic segment in dorsal view. This is sometimes hard to see and will require some practise. In Poduromorpha the segment is present. In Entomobryomorpha it is absent. In other words, in dorsal view, Poduromorpha count 3 thoracic segments, while Entomobryomorpha count only 2 thoracic segments, in dorsal aspect. Ofcourse both have 3 thoracic segments, given they have 3 pairs of legs, but in Entomobryomorpha the dorsal tergite of the 1st thoracic segment is reduced completely.
Springtails need a high air humidity to survive. So you will often find them actively crawling about on the surface after rain or during the night, during thaw, etc... They will hide soon under bark or in the litter layer when the air becomes to dry."
I guess in the future I'll have to take along a field microscope to ID these critters!