Thursday, 5 February 2015

Day 96 - The Beauty of the mini-beasts part 4

Hey everyone,

Well it'll be day 4 of my trip and I think it was scrambling that we were supposed to do today.

It's also day 4 of my panto inspired theme, Beauty of the mini beasts. Don't know if you've seen any of them but Matt Doogue takes some fantastic close up shots of insects. I love them and would like to learn how to take shots like them. I found a little Christmas present I'd almost forgotten about which was a set of clip-on lenses for an iphone, one of them was a macro lens! Trouble is most of the bugs are all tucked up for winter, so I had a look in the greenhouse to see what I could find. I did find a mini beast, and it was a very very mini beast! As you can see from the shots they aren't a patch on Matts but I was quite pleased as the Springtail in them is only two or three millimeters long!

Well I'd never seen one of these little beasts so close before so I had to do my research! Here's what I found out:

  • Springtails are a group of creatures that have the name Collembola, this comes from Greek and means glue piston and it's because they have a sticky tube that helps them stick to surfaces.
  • They are a very primitive and ancient group of creatures, there are fossil examples from over 400 million years ago!
  • The smallest springtails are just 0.2mm long, I'm glad this one was a bit bigger or I'd have never got a photo!
  • Their common name comes from a springing organ they have on their abdomen, it is like a long tough tail tucked under their bodies. They hold it there with a little catch. When they are disturbed they release the catch and spring away. It's quite impressive how much they can jump doing this.
  • Their spring is known as a furca. The fastest springtails can spring their furca in 18 milliseconds!
  • They aren't classed as insects, but instead are hexapods. This means they still have six legs coming from their bodies but they have internal mouth parts and insects have external mouth parts.
  • They like to live in leaf litter and eat fungus and small bits of organic material.
  • Collumbola are very widespread and the most common creature on the planet. Apparently in one square metre of a woodland up to 200,000 have been counted. As these little guys are very lively that must have been very hard - I'm glad I didn't have to do the counting!
So, a little look in last years tomato plant pot revealed a whole new lot of learning. I hope you enjoyed reading about Springtails and if you want to know more try these links:

Hope you enjoyed,


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