A diminutive house guest

Human houses provide warm, dry conditions that mice, cockroaches, silverfish and other animals exploit for a more comfortable existence.

Ant houses do the same. Because ants create sanitary spaces with regulated humidity, a number of other species readily move in if given the chance. Here, for example, is a springtail:

An entomobryoid springtail in a nest of Aphaenogaster

10 thoughts on “A diminutive house guest”

    1. Should I squash some and count the chromosomes?

      (Just to be safe, I’ve gone non-committal on the identification. I didn’t collect any vouchers, unfortunately.)

  1. Are you sure it is Entomobryidae and not Cyphoderidae or one of the other families of Entomobryoidea? I used to feel safe when punting on springtail families, but since all the recent revisionary work, I just mumble an -oid.

    1. Addendum – probably Cyphoderus, a known ant associate, and Cyphoderidae Börner, 1913, or Cyphoderinae of the Paronellidae Börner, 1913, depending on your particular taxonomic persuasion.

    2. Yeah, I’m definitely showing my age with this one. Everything in that general area is an entomobryid to me, modern taxonomy be damned.

      Next up: yelling at kids to get off my lawn.

  2. Is its springing defence enough to protect it from being eaten by the ants? It looks like it is in grave peril.

    1. I would guess its prescence goes unnoticed in the hive, most ants arent very visual predators (and its dark inside the nest ofcourse), so it most likely mimics the smell of the ants, or is completely devoid of any odours that would give it away as an intruder.

  3. taro eldredge

    Yea, it’s probably Cyphoderus albinus. They can be amazingly abundant in various ant nests. It is likely that these colembollan and acarine symbionts are an important food source for other “larger” guests, such as pselaphine and scydmaenine staphylinids.

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