In 2005 Steve Hopkin
, God of All Things Springtail, published this great review about my favourite springtail species (whaddya mean, you don't have a favourite springtail species?
), Folsomia candida.
Folsomia candida (Collembola): A “Standard” Soil Arthropod. (2005) Annual Review of Entomology 50: 201-222
Among the great snippets of information it contains are the following gems:
Folsomia candida is parthenogenetic and is easy to maintain in the laboratory on a diet of granulated dry yeast.
F. candida has been used as a “standard” test organism for more than 40 years for estimating the effects of pesticides and environmental pollutants on soil arthropods.
F. candida is considered a tramp species (54). Because it has been carried all over the world in plant pots and soil its original biogeographical locations are difficult to ascertain.
Populations of F. candida consist exclusively of parthenogenetic females.
At 20°C they take between 21 and 24 days to reach the sixth, or adult, instar when they are sexually mature. At lower temperatures, the time span for each developmental stage is extended. For example, the average lifespan of a female at 15°C is 240 days, whereas at 24°C it is only 111 days.
About 30 to 50 eggs are laid in each batch, which take 7 to 10 days to hatch.
The optimal temperature for hatching success is 21°C. Eggs maintained above 28°C fail to hatch.
At 15, 21, and 27°C, the average number of eggs laid by a female during her lifetime is around 1100, 900, and only 100, respectively.
Eggs are often laid in communal heaps, in which females add to previously laid batches.
An adult female may go through 45 molts in her lifetime with short reproductive instars (duration 1.5 days) alternating with longer nonreproductive instars (duration 8.5 days).
All life stages of F. candida are well adapted to dry soil conditions. The species possesses physiological adaptations to desiccation and absorbs water vapor and remains active below 98.9% relative humidity (the permanent wilting point of plants).
Oxygen uptake is via the cuticle - F. candida does not possess tracheae.
The gut passage time of F. candida at 20°C is approximately 35 min.
F. candida feeds on fungal hyphae and exhibits strong preferences for particular species
The fungus on which F. candida feeds influences its growth and fecundity. Laboratory experiments with F. candida held in different microcosms, with only one species of fungus available in each, have shown that some taxa of fungi are more nutritious than others.
F. candida shows a mild preference to settle on soils of pH 5.6, at which females achieve their highest level of reproduction compared with more acidic or alkaline conditions.