If you’ve never heard of Collembola, you’re not alone. Until recent years, it was thought that these soil borne creatures were essentially harmless. Even doctors vehemently denied that springtails were likely to infest human hair and skin. Folks who suffered from chronic itching, biting and crawling sensations were often considered delusional, but that mindset is slowly changing. Mounting evidence suggests that these micro-tiny pests can be surprisingly invasive.
Thanks to the tenacity of folks like Dr. Frans Janssens and his colleague, Dr. Kenneth A. Christiansen, the scientific community is beginning to recognize that springtails can pose a very real threat to human comfort when present in large numbers. The two researchers collected scores of reports from homeowners, doctors, and pest control operators in several countries, including many regions of The United States. Within the gray areas between casual testimony, scientific observation and concrete medical documentation, a startling picture emerged. Collembola are everywhere, and it’s not impossible for them to latch onto humans and animals.
As inhabitants of fertile soil, springtails are likely to be found just about anywhere. The more you water the lawn and apply fertilizer, the happier they’ll be. They are considered the most abundant arthropods on earth. Since prehistoric times, they have survived frigid winters and very hot summers, but their numbers decrease exponentially under dry conditions.
Pet owners are particularly vulnerable to collembola infestation. Dogs and cats who trample through moist soil or wet grass can pick up springtails and transport them into the home; however, it’s not likely that springtails will stay attached to pets like fleas unless an animal’s immune system is compromised (for example, if there’s a fungal infection of the skin.) Springtails are easily transferred between humans and animals. Close contact isn’t necessary. These acrobatic creatures can jump three to four feet. You may not always notice them catapulting through the air. They can be smaller than the head of a pin.
If the thought of a few springtails in the house makes you paranoid, relax. Their ability to divide and conquer will largely depend upon environmental factors. Do you enjoy growing potted plants indoors? Does your basement tend to flood after a good rain? Can you smell mold behind the bathroom wall? Are you still waiting on a plumber to fix that leaky pipe under the kitchen sink? Who was president the last time you cleaned your air ducts? A moist, moldy environment is like Disneyland to a springtail.
Getting rid of an advanced collembola infestation can be difficult because springtails aren’t classified as insects. They are defined as hexapods, primitive ancestors to modern day bugs. According to organic scientist David Glassel, chemical pesticides have no effect on the hexapod. Only natural insecticides will do the trick, and the best remedy is cedar oil.
Step By Step Guide to Eliminate Collembola Infestation:
1.) Treat yourself and your pets with a topical cedar oil insecticide approved for use with humans and animals. Avoid cosmetic or aroma therapy grade cedar oil. It’s not purified, and it usually comes from certain forms of cypress trees. Cedar oil that is formulated for home protection will kill ALL TYPES of parasites on contact, including springtails, lice and all forms of mites. If you’re tempted to use an over the counter kit designed for lice control, don’t bother. It won’t work, it’s not enough to cover large areas, and it’s just plain not good for you. Such products contain Lindane, a chemical banned for use with animals by the Environmental Protection Agency.
2.) Spray couches, beds and carpets with a fine cedar oil mist. A proper household formula will be very light and pure. In other words, it won’t stain fabric.
3.) Use a cedar oil fog machine to penetrate unseen cracks and crevices in the home. Normally, fog machines are considered optional, but advanced springtail infestations require aggressive measures. If you believe your infestation is severe, or if you’ve actually SEEN large groups of springtails moving over floors and walls, don’t mess around.
4.) Use the fog machine to treat air ducts or hire a professional air duct cleaning company. Many people are shocked to discover they have mold in their air ducts. It is not uncommon for mold to develop in your heating and cooling system from the condensation of your air conditioner. Springtails feed upon mold and thrive in moist conditions. Mold can also aggravate asthma and allergies. Air duct treatment addresses all of these difficulties.
5.) Purchase the highest quality furnace filters available at your local store. Filters designed for allergen and dust mite removal are best. Change filters frequently.
6.) Hunt for places where moisture accumulates. Patch leaky roofs and pipes. Seal cracks around basement windows. Pay special attention to bathroom walls and cabinets under sinks.
7.) Remove household plants, especially decorative trees sitting in large potted containers filled with soil. Remember that springtails can be transported directly into your home via bags of potted soil.
8.) Take aggressive measures to control animal populations on your property. Double bag garbage, and don’t leave open trash barrels sitting around. Animal foods that are stored outdoors should be kept in airtight containers. Use traps or repellents to control rodents, raccoons and squirrel populations. Resist the urge to pet stray dogs and cats. Report any sightings of feral cats to your local animal control center.
9.) Beware of ultra rich potting soil and wooden landscaping materials. Based on calls placed to our pest control operation from all over the country, springtail populations are often introduced to the home when truckloads of new mulch or soil have been dumped on properties that previously had minimal landscaping. (Mulch traps moisture and promotes the growth of mold.) Seal any cracks around basement windows before distributing natural landscaping materials around the perimeter of the home. If you’re worried about collembolla populations outdoors, there are super strength cedar oil concentrates designed to repel mosquitoes and kill insect populations in the grass and soil. Pet breeders, horse keepers, and livestock farmers use cedar oil concentrates to control all types of parasites in barns, pens and pastures. A generous treatment early in the spring or summer will do a lot to destroy eggs and control multiple insect populations before they explode. Veterinarian bills are EXPENSIVE. Destroy parasites before they destroy you!
10.) Last but not least, avoid chemical pesticides. In February of 2011, USA Today ran an article titled “Exposure to Pesticides in Womb Linked to Learning Disabilities.” The study focused on peremethrin, a chemical commonly used to battle household pests. As disturbing as this sounds, the topic is nothing new. Scores of scientific studies have linked chemical pesticides to neurological disorders, breast cancer and birth defects in children living near farms where chemicals are sprayed. In a nationally televised ABC World News investigation, spot drop flea and tick medicines were found to cause 44,000 severe reactions in a single year, including multiple deaths.
By Bethany C. Crist
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