- Last updated on 2000.01.31 by Frans Janssens
Checklist of the Collembola: Domestic Infestation of Seira brasiliana in Florida, US

Kenneth A. Christiansen, Department of Biology, Grinell College, PO Box V3, Grinell, IA 50112-0806, USA
Frans Janssens, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp (RUCA), Antwerp, B-2020, Belgium
David Jones, PO Box 2623, Pinellas Park, Florida, Fl 33780, USA


Domestic infestation of the neotropical Seira brasiliana (Arlé, 1939) in Florida, US.



Keywords: Collembola, domestic infestation


Collembola as a domestic nuisance are occasionally reported. This publication is an attempt to report as detailed as possible the where abouts of a domestic infestation in a house in Florida by a neotropical entomobryid springtail that is apparently extending its geographical range on the northern hemisphere as well as its range of habitats.


The springtail specimens have been collected by the junior author in and around his house in the St Peterburg area in Florida, US on 1999.06.05-06. The springtails have been collected some from inside the bathroom, some from the outside walls around the pool, and the majority of them from around the outside wall of the bedroom window.
Table I. Overview of collected material
Ordo Entomobryomorpha Börner, 1913
Familia Entomobryidae Schött, 1891
Seira Lubbock, 1869 brasiliana (Arlé, 1939) Marcus, 1949
US1FloridaSt Peterburg??1999.06.05-06106a2Jones DChristiansen KAKAVE3

1 US=United States of America; 2 a=adult; 3 KAVE=Koninklijke Antwerpse Vereniging voor Entomologie.

The specimens, determined with Christiansen & Bellinger (1980:925), are keyed out as a pale form of Seira bipunctata.
Dr Kenneth Christiansen has identified the springtails as Seira brasiliana.
This tropical species appears to be expanding its range. It was described from Brazil in 1939 and was first found in Puerto Rico in 1973 and first collected in Florida in 1980. It has never previously been reported from a house. Since it is a new invader its activities are not very predictable.

The difference between the two closely related Seira species is that there are only four central cephalic macrochaetae in Seira brasiliana and Seira bipunctata has seven. The key in Christiansen & Bellinger (1980) was made before specimens of Seira brasiliana from the U.S. were discovered. Drs Christiansen and Bellinger are finishing a revision of the species of the genus Seira in the America's which contains a new illustrated key. The work is to be published in the Carribean Journal of Science and should be finished summer 1999.


Preliminary note: the local city Public Works department has cut down all the weeds and growth from the sides of the ditch on the following days: April 1998, April 9th 1999, and June 14th 1999.

Observations of springtail counts inhouse (see Table II) from April 28 to June 7 were done by the junior author. All the counts have been done at one point in time during the day, usually in the afternoon, unless stated otherwise explicitly. The numbers counted are of live springtails. Only these are counted as it is assumed that they have not been inside the house for very long. There have been numerous occasions where dead springtails were found. The daily counts can and have been affected by such things as the time spend counting and the resolve on any given day. An attempt is made to spend the same amount of time day to day counting so that the records are standardised, but some days more time to count is available than others. For example, on the weekends, more time is spend at home than during the week.

Table II. Observations
DateCountPest controlWeatherObservation
1999.04.29142Two trees and all underbush removed  
1999.04.30 52Stumps grinded; raked mostly in front of home  
1999.05.01 20Sprayed inside house and limited outside; raked mostly in back of yard; cleaned guttersCoolThere were a large number living in debri in gutters
1999.05.02 15Put down lime; raked some; sprayed outside walls of pool areaCoolSaw quite a few on walls around pool (outside)
1999.05.03 23Sprayed ditches Quite a few more seen on outside walls, and garage door
1999.05.04 24  During morning still seeing some on outside walls, not as much as previous day afternoon; afternoon had more activity; seem to be more active as day gets warmer
1999.05.05 37Sprayed outside of house During morning did not see many on outside of house; afternoon had considerly more present outside of house
1999.05.06 26Sprayed yard in afternoon During morning did not see many on outside of house; more activity on outside walls in afternoon
1999.05.07 40 Some rain, enough to wet ground pretty goodLess activity in morning; more activity in afternoon
1999.05.08 26Raked a lot of bags in front of dining room windows; removed thorney bushes Some less activity during day; saw quite a bit of them in the bushes in front
1999.05.09 25Finished raking in front; raked planter area; extended air drain away from house; sprayed in front of house A lot less activity; planter area contains a bunch of them
1999.05.12 12  Very few to none on side of house (evening inspection); still a # on garage door and front door way; still some on walls around pool
1999.05.13 7  Less on outside walls (evening inspection); most outside activity seemed to be on garage door and some above front door
1999.05.14 7   
1999.05.15 15Cleaned out and sprayed area in front of door Found many springtails in front of door as well as some subterranean termites in soil in planter area next to front door
1999.05.16 10Cleaned out and sprayed area beside garage Saw less on walls outside
1999.05.17 4  Saw less on walls outside (evening inspection)
1999.05.18 3  Saw more on walls outside than previous day (evening inspection)
1999.05.19 14  Still some on outside walls (evening inspection)
1999.05.20 19Sprayed in shower Found large number gathered on floor of shower stall; there were too many to count
1999.05.21 17Spreading out insecticide granulesRained 
1999.05.22 10Raked some on side of houseRained some 
1999.05.23 11Raked around pool; spread out lime on side of house; poured 2 gallons of bleach down drains, most in bath room  
1999.05.24 8   
1999.05.25 10   
1999.05.26 12   
1999.05.27 11   
1999.05.28 23   
1999.05.29 25   
1999.05.30 28 Rained quite a bit 
1999.05.31 25 Weather cooler; ground still real damp 
1999.06.01 22   
1999.06.02 14Sprayed yardRained quite a bit 
1999.06.03 17   
1999.06.04 8   
1999.06.05 17Sprayed outside of house  
1999.06.06 6 Did not rain 
1999.06.07 19 Did not rain 


Table III. Histogram of counted specimens
1999.04.28 213
1999.04.29 142
1999.04.30 52
1999.05.01 20
1999.05.02 15
1999.05.03 23
1999.05.04 24
1999.05.05 37
1999.05.06 26
1999.05.07 40
1999.05.08 26
1999.05.09 25
1999.05.12 12
1999.05.13 7
1999.05.14 7
1999.05.15 15
1999.05.16 10
1999.05.17 4
1999.05.18 3
1999.05.19 14
1999.05.20 19
1999.05.21 17
1999.05.22 10
1999.05.23 11
1999.05.24 8
1999.05.25 10
1999.05.26 12
1999.05.27 11
1999.05.28 23
1999.05.29 25
1999.05.30 28
1999.05.31 25
1999.06.01 22
1999.06.02 14
1999.06.03 17
1999.06.04 8
1999.06.05 17
1999.06.06 6
1999.06.07 19


Seira brasiliana has been recorded from the Antillean & South Florida, South Brazilian and Andean biogeographical regions ( global distribution ).

Published records of Seira brasiliana (in chronological order):

After Greenslade, P. (2000:in litt.):
"I have mounted 25 specimens. I examined the gut contents and roughly worked out how full the gut of each specimens was and identified a few recognisable objects in it.

My comments are as follows:

  1. It is interesting that only adults were collected. This indicates to me that the animals are not breeding anywhere inside the house but some distance from it.
  2. Although I selected for mounting specimens that appeared to have gut contents, even so there was a relatively high proportion of individuals mounted with empty guts (20%). Also the average % fullness of the guts on all 25 specimens was 35%. This is quite low too in my opinion. This therefore indicates that the animals are not feeding inside the house.
  3. There was a fairly high proportion of pollen grains in the gut and hardly any fungal hyphae or fungal spores. I am not able to identify the pollen myself although I think it may be grass pollen. Again this indicates to me that the animals may have been feeding on the lawn. There were also sparse invertebrate parts in the gut and some unidentifiable amorphous material either white, yellow or brown. This is normal however I would have expected species in this genus to feed predominately on fungal hyphae but very little is known of the ecology of this species. "

Population control

After Greenslade, P. (1999:in litt.):
"I am sure you are right in reducing the amount of water you put on your garden. However if you have a lawn, this is another habitat in which the springtail species, which I think you may have, are often abundant. So, grass possibly should be avoided."

After Christiansen, K. (1999:in litt.):
"After viewing the pictures of your house and grounds I can only suggest that if the open ditch is not required for your yard, you sometime get large culvert piping to enclose the drainage ditch water and keep the grounds around your house as dry as possible . A sand covering might be the most effective route to go. Three inches will not do any good . I believe you would need at least 4 feet of surround to do any good. No vegetation or leaf litter should be allowed and the drier you keep the margin and house the better. The trees are actually useful since they help to dry out the soil and do not normally harbor Seira. Seira should not breed inside the house so you should only be having them come in from outside. I would also avoid house plants inside the house as long as the problem persists. I still think the problem will eventually diminish and remember they do not carry disease, eat your food, attack furniture or household goods or infect humans. So they are at worst a nuisance."

After Dallai, R. (1999:in litt.):
"Unfortunately there is very little one can do against these animals, other than what you've already done, the only comfort being the fact that they are not harmful. Obviously, you should try to keep humidity inside (and outside) your house as low as possible. Perhaps, air conditining is not sufficient and you may consider to use a de-humidifier inside the house."


After Greenslade, P. (2000:in litt.):
"It does not appear that the animals are coming inside the house for food or moisture nor are they finding food or moisture inside the house. It seems they are dispersing from the population origin wherever it is."


We thank - in alphabetical order - Dr Romano Dallai and Dr Penelope Greenslade for their advise to control the population. We thank Dr Penelope Greenslade for the detailed gut analysis.


References with authors not in bold face have not been verified yet.