~A Spring In My Tail~
This is a rather small Sminthurinus sp Globular Springtail, closely resembling S.aureus, I find these at Melton Country Park, they just seem a little different to the S.aureus I find in other places. This little one was about 0.8mm long and is actually next to a rivet on a park bench, it had escaped from the bit of wood I was trying to photograph it on.
Springtails get their name from the use of an appendage called the furcula found on the fourth abdominal segment, it enables the Springtail to launch itself into the air and is used as an escape mechanism,
this is what Wiki says :o)
The furcula, or furca, is a tail-like appendage shaped like a fork, found ventrally on the fourth abdominal segment of springtails. Present in most species dwelling the upper soil layers, it is used for jumping when the animal is threatened. While at rest, it is retracted under the abdomen and held there by a structure variously called the retinaculum or hamula, located on the third abdominal segment. When the retinaculum releases the furcula, it springs open and hits the substrate, propelling the springtail into the air. This mechanism is not used for locomotion, but only for escaping from predators or severe stress.
One reason not to use it for locomotion is that its action is extremely unpredictable; when the furcula is released, the organism is sent tumbling through the air on an unpredictable trajectory, and lands practically randomly.
Not surprisingly, some species, such as the intertidal marine inhabitant Anurida maritima do without an organ that might get them into more trouble than it rescues them from. Some other species, such as in the genus Hypogastrura have only a very short furcula. At the same time the device is hard to predict and is versatile. Even a springtail drifting on the surface tension layer of water often can jump successfully. Also, most predators of springtails are small and often have little power of sight, so if the prey leaps in time, the chances are that from the hunter's point of view, it simply vanishes.
Tried to go out and do some photography today, failed miserably, it was more like Winter, cold, grey and windy, with occasional drizzle thrown in for good measure, did not even get the camera out of the bag, a big BOOOOOOO!!!!!!! to British weather :o(
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