If you’ve never heard of Collembola, you’re not alone. Until a few years ago, these soil creatures were thought to be essentially harmless. Even doctors vehemently denied that springtails could infest human hair and skin. People who suffered from chronic itching, biting, and tingling sensations were often considered delusional, but that mindset is slowly changing. There is mounting evidence to suggest that these tiny micropests can be surprisingly invasive.

Thanks to the tenacity of people 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 dozens of reports from homeowners, doctors, and pest control operators in various countries, including many regions of the United States. Within the gray areas between casual testimony, scientific observation, and concrete medical documentation, an initial picture emerged. Springtails are everywhere, and it’s not impossible for them to attach themselves to humans and animals.

As inhabitants of fertile soil, springtails are likely to be found anywhere. The more you water the lawn and apply fertilizer, the happier they will 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 decline exponentially in dry conditions.

Pet owners are particularly vulnerable to springtail infestation. Dogs and cats that trample wet soil or wet grass may pick up springtails and transport them into the house; however, springtails are not likely to remain attached to pets like fleas unless the animal’s immune system is compromised (for example, if there is a fungal infection on the skin). Springtails are easily transferred between humans and animals. Close contact is not 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. Your ability to divide and conquer will depend largely on environmental factors. Do you like to grow potted plants indoors? Does your foundation tend to flood after a good rain? Can you smell the mold behind the bathroom wall? Are you still waiting for a plumber to fix that leaky pipe under the kitchen sink? Who was president the last time you cleaned your air ducts? A damp, moldy environment is like Disneyland for a springtail.

Getting rid of an advanced infestation of springtails can be difficult because springtails are not classified as insects. They are defined as hexapods, primitive ancestors of modern insects. 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 springtail infestation:

1.) Treat yourself and your pets with a topical cedar oil insecticide approved for use on humans and animals. Avoid aromatherapy or cosmetic grade cedar oil. It is not purified and usually comes from certain forms of cypress trees. Cedarwood oil that is formulated for home protection will kill ALL TYPES of parasites on contact, including springtails, lice, and all forms of moths. 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 not good for you. These products contain lindane, a chemical banned for use on animals by the Environmental Protection Agency.

2.) Spray diapers, beds and carpets with a fine mist of cedar oil. A proper home formula will be very light and sheer. In other words, it will not stain the fabric.

3.) Use a cedar oil fog machine to penetrate invisible cracks and crevices in the home. Fog machines are normally considered optional, but advanced springtail infestations require aggressive measures. If you think your infestation is severe, or if you have actually SEEN large groups of springtails moving across floors and walls, don’t waste time.

4.) Use the fog machine to treat your air ducts or hire a professional air duct cleaning company. Many people are surprised to discover that they have mold in their air ducts. It’s not uncommon for mold to develop in your heating and cooling system from condensation from your air conditioning. Springtails feed on mold and thrive in moist conditions. Mold can also aggravate asthma and allergies. Air duct treatment addresses all of these difficulties.

5.) Buy the highest quality furnace filters available at your local store. Filters designed for the removal of allergens and dust mites are best. Change filters frequently.

6.) Look for places where moisture accumulates. Patch leaky roofs and pipes. Seal cracks around basement windows. Pay special attention to the bathroom walls and the cabinets under the sinks.

7.) Remove houseplants, especially ornamental trees that are in large pots filled with soil. Remember that springtails can be transported directly to your home via bags of potting soil.

8.) Take aggressive steps to control animal populations on your property. Double bag trash and don’t leave open trash containers lying around. Food of animal origin that is stored outdoors should be kept in airtight containers. Use traps or repellents to control rodent, raccoon, and squirrel populations. Resist the temptation to pet stray cats and dogs. Report any sightings of feral cats to your local animal control center.

9.) Be careful with ultra-rich potting soil and woody landscaping materials. According to calls made to our pest control operation from across the country, springtail populations are often introduced into the home when truckloads of new mulch or soil are dumped on properties that previously had minimal landscaping. (Mulch traps moisture and promotes mold growth.) Seal cracks around basement windows before distributing natural landscaping materials around the perimeter of the house. If you’re concerned about springtail populations outdoors, there are super-strength cedar oil concentrates designed to repel mosquitoes and kill insect populations in grass and soil. Pet breeders, horse keepers, and ranchers use cedar oil concentrates to control all types of parasites in stables, pens, and pastures. A generous treatment in early spring or summer will go a long way to destroy the eggs and control multiple insect populations before they explode. Vet bills are EXPENSIVE. Destroy the parasites before they destroy you!

10.) Last but not least, avoid chemical pesticides. In February 2011, USA Today published an article titled “In-Womb Pesticide Exposure Linked to Learning Disabilities.” The study focused on permethrin, a chemical commonly used to combat household pests. As disturbing as it sounds, the issue is nothing new. Dozens 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, randomly administered flea and tick medications were found to cause 44,000 serious reactions in a single year, including multiple deaths.

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