Vermicomposting, worm bin, composting with worms community and forums
Does anyone know how to get rid of springtails? Will DE do the job?
I know that mites in a worm bin prefer acid conditions. What about springtails?
Somehow, it seems that in the last 2 months the springtail population in some of my bins have exploded, literally. And I think it starts to bother the worms because they are further down rather than peeking out getting fresh air and food. I have bought Hypoapsis mites in 2012 to suppress fungus gnats and springtails. It did help w. fungus gnat but the springtails never diminished. DE will not get rid f. gnats or their larva and I was wondering if it would work on springtails. But then, the effectiveness of DE is in dry condition. I thought if it would do some of a job to sprinkle it on top, I'll try to get some DE.
My vermicomposting "Short Hand" is quite short, DE, as in Dead End...??? Or is it a Stock market listing symbol...??? Could it be short for DUHHHH...? Just curious...!
DE = diatomaceous earth. Supposed to help get rid of ants. DE will cut (or puncture) into their skin, they dry out and die.
Are you sure it's that way around, seems could be a bit of cause and effect. Maybe something is up with the environment which is causing the worms to keep away but is ideal for the springtails? I've noticed my springtail pops wax and wain depending on conditions. I've never noticed or really heard of springtails themselves causing issues with worms and I've seen stuff saying they get along fine together. Population changes in springtails (or mites or white worms) indicating an environment change worms don't like as much as opposed to any of them directly effecting worms.
I do find that springtails can hit stuff earlier than worms, especially things like citrus, breads and/or moldy things. So if that top stuff is a new feeding... Did you try anything different than your usual?
Here's one vid with tons of springtails (mites also) but was healthy.
The bins I was talking about were set up Feb. 5, 2012 (exactly a year ago tomorrow) and they are 3 gal. buckets.
I noticed they contain springtails a couple of months after that but was never interfering with the worms' activity. I lined my bins with corrugated cardboard along the wall and the sp. tails are usually between the corr.cb and the wall and maybe inside the corr. cb too and that is cool, no complains there. I have marked these bins and I make sure I do not overfeed them. As I mentioned, the pop. explotion was noticed about 2 months ago so since then, I added extra powdered egg shells (compliment of a fellow member) and shredded newspaper and when that didn't seem to help, I stopped feeding that bin entirely about a month ago.and it seems to me there are now even more. Survival insticts? I mean more springtails. The worms are not as plump and big as the other bins sans springtails, but as far as I can tell they are still alive though not too happy to be on a lean diet, chomping on newspaper. I didn't spritz any water either. Another reason why the worms are down-under where it is damper I guess. It is like on Bentley's video when I moved the dry bedding aside except that it's over the entire surface of the 3 gal. bin, so about 1 sq.ft.
The funny thing is, as you've noticed with the cardboard along the side, springtails like damp paper. I've always had them, sometimes almost missed them, but I got a lot more when I upped my bedding quota and ran my Inn more on the drier side. Springtails definately didn't like the more compact and wetter environment I had before, extra bedding and more space to run around (damp but open) in they loved.
If you don't have dying worms or seeing/smelling environmental problems, I'd just try feeding again. Are the worms lean because of the springtails, or because you're not feeding...because of the springtails? Environmental systems are hard to pin down that way. Either way, we've both seen them actually liking paper/cardboard so going only paper isn't going to reduce numbers it looks like. So if things otherwise look ok, I'd treat the bin like your other bins (maybe smaller feeding due to the lean month they've had) and see what happens. Bently ended up with a huge population of both in that system, while maybe not ideal it doesn't seem a risk for killing off your worms.
edit- btw a thought. Not sure what you feed, but if it's not pre-rotted the springtails will always get there first (worms have to wait). If you've got some worm friendly feedings from your other bins (worms are into it eating), you can try taking some of that and putting it into the springtail bin. See who (or both) gets into it the most.
I feed the worms pre-rotted (2 months or so) juice-ing pulp from the beginning. Thanks for the suggestion Peter. Yeah, maybe I should go by getting it damper, see what happens. I'll try with 1 bin.
Sue, I agree with Peter. Feed the worms and don't worry about the springtails. I've never noticed them bothering the worms. Of course I've never seen them cover the entire surface of a bin.
Sue, I've had a few springtail blooms, and it usually occurred after adding highly acidic foods, like citrus and mango. They didn't seem to hurt anything, but I was able to reduce their numbers over a couple weeks by adding crushed egg shells with subsequent feedings.
I usually just leave the springtails alone in my bins, but they're outdoor bins and I've never had a severe infestation like you're describing. That said, I've used DE for ant and flea infestations before, and I can tell you this:
A pretty good rule of thumb on the DE is that it works in dry environments on anything with an exoskeleton. If it has an exoskeleton, the DE will get between the plates and act like sandpaper. The more they move, the faster it works. There seem to be mostly positive reports of DE working on springtails, but my guess is it will only be mildly effective in a damp environment like a worm bin.
Interesting side note: I looked up "springtail exoskeleton" on google and it turns out there's a flying machine that goes by that name. Cool looking thing, no idea if it's out of prototyping phases... Looking up "springtail bug" worked much better for our purposes. As best I can tell, they do have an exoskeleton, but it is not a waxy exoskeleton. DE should be effective in this case, barring dampness. Sprinkling on the top of the bin may be sufficient to bring them under control.
At risk of derailing this conversation... how cool is this?! http://www.trekaero.com/Trek_VTOL_Springtail_Vehicles.htm
Cool Wonder if it really flies?
Excerpt from Wikipedia, so FWIW:
"...by their capacity to carry spores of mycorrhizal fungi and mycorrhiza-helper bacteria on their tegument, soil springtails play a positive role in the establishment of plant-fungal symbioses and thus are beneficial to agriculture. They also contribute to controlling plant fungal diseases through their active consumption of mycelia and spores of damping-off and pathogenic fungi..."