Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Tiny insect in garden


Tiny mysterious insect
Tiny mysterious insect  
QUESTION: Hi - we just installed a rock and drought tolerant garden last year, followed by a few months of off and on El Niņo rain.  Today was a super hot day, and I just noticed a lot of tiny whitish pinhead size bugs all over our firepit table and on all the surrounding chairs, which sits on top of the rocks.  Didn't notice them as much when it was raining.  They can be blown off or wiped off easily, but they are all over and actively moving around.    When I tap on them, they easily died, leaving just a tiny droplet of fluid smeared behind.  What are these insects?  How can I best manage them from being all over our patio furniture?  

Pleasanton, CA, US


I can't see any detail in the photo however from your description I think these are likely collembola, also called springtails (see http://www.livingwithbugs.com/springtails.html). Collembola feed on soil fungi and can be very numerous. They are completely harmless and simply washing them away is the best option. When weather conditions return to normal they will likely go back to the soil/duff where they normally live.

Jack DeAngelis

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi - Thanks for your response!  I have one more question.  Since they seem to really like to stay on our outdoor faux wood furniture, and I can't seem to get rid of them completely,  I am wondering if they will end up all over our clothes/hair and start migrating indoor. They don't seem to mind that there are no water on the furnitures, which I thought that is what they need to survive. Do you have an effective chemical treatment solution?

The collembola are likely migrating away from the saturated soil rather than toward water. They won't infest people or clothes so there's no worry in this regard. There are persistent, and incorrect, rumors online that springtails infest people, THEY DO NOT, so please ignore this chatter.

Jack DeAngelis  

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Jack DeAngelis


I can answer questions in any area of entomology (study of insects, spiders, mites, ticks, and other terrestrial arthropods). Contact me about home and garden insects, insects that bite and sting, and insects that damage homes such as carpenter ants and termites.


20 years as university extension entomologist, now retired; currently publish a website about home and garden insects.

see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html

Ph.D. in Entomology

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