Do Springtails Eat Mold? Yes! Using Springtails to Control Mold

Last Updated on July 27, 2022 by Jeffery Jago

The most important aspect of keeping a terrarium is to be sure you have the proper microfauna present. A healthy population of springtails (Collembola spp.) is essential to keeping mold and mildew at bay, as well as aerating the soil and breaking down organic matter. And yes, Springtails do eat mold and it’s an essential job in a terrarium.

Do springtails eat mold and should we use springtails in a terrarium?

The microfauna in a terrarium consists of many little species that go about their business primarily unnoticed. One of these little creatures is the springtail (Collembola spp.).

Springtails are very small, wingless insects that get their name from the fact that they have a tail-like appendage called a furcula that allows them to jump. They are usually white, pink, or pale in color and range in size from 1/16” to 1/8”.

While most people are not familiar with springtails, they are actually quite crucial in the terrarium environment. One of their most important roles is eating mold and mildew.

Because most terrariums are hot, humid, and wet, they are magnets for mold and mildew. If left unchecked, mold and mildew can quickly take over the terrarium and make it uninhabitable for your plants and animals.

This is where springtails come in. Springtails are constantly on the lookout for food and they love nothing more than a nice meal of mold and mildew, and fungus.

Not only do they eat the mold, but they also help to aerate the soil and break down organic matter.

In short, springtails are essential to keeping a terrarium clean and healthy by eating mold. So, if you are looking for a natural way to control mold and mildew in your terrarium, add some springtails!

Should you supplement the terrarium with any other food sources for the springtails?

Whether or not you should add supplemental foods to your terrarium for your springtail (and usually isopods) population depends on the size of the population, the amount of mold and waste that’s usually available, and other factors.

If you have a small terrarium with not a lot of mold or waste available, then you may want to add some supplemental foods.

On the other hand, if you have a large terrarium with plenty of mold and waste available, then your springtails will probably do just fine.

Many people will recommend using fish flakes as a supplemental food source, however, this is bad practice and will only attract pesky mites and other undesirables into your terrarium.

A better food source for springtails is rice. Soaking rice and adding a few grains in the terrarium will quickly grow moldy and provide a feast for your springtails.

Another great food source for springtails is oatmeal. Simply add a few spoonfuls of oatmeal to the terrarium and it will soon become moldy and be eaten by the springtails.

So, if you are looking for a way to supplement your springtail population, add some moldy rice or oatmeal to the terrarium.

Do springtail cultures need mold?

Springtail cultures do need an additional food source. Most cultures consist of just water and charcoal. This is the ideal breeding ground for springtails, However, there is nothing in these two mediums for the springtails to eat.

To address this issue, many people will add a small amount of oatmeal or rice to the culture. This will provide the mold that the springtails need to survive and thrive.

An even better option is to buy powdered springtail foods for your culture. They do much the same as rice and oatmeal, but they are specifically designed for springtails.

So, if you want to ensure that your springtail culture is healthy and thriving, add a small amount of moldy rice or oatmeal, or buy some powdered springtail food. Springtails will eat the mold and populate effectively.

Can a terrarium have too many springtails?

Normally there’s no such thing as soo many bioactive cleaners in a terrarium. If you have too many springtails it just means that they’re doing their job and cleaning up the mold and mildew in the environment.

But there are times when your terrarium is such a good host for springtails that their population can explode. When this happens, they can start to become a nuisance.

They will start to swarm all over the place and get into everything, and even crawl and annoy your animals.

When this happens, removing excess is pretty easy and straightforward.

Take a mushroom and cut it up, and place it in a small angled cup with a bit of water at the bottom. Leave this for a couple of days then remove it.

It should be filled with springtails that you can then remove from your terrarium.

Do this a few times until the population has been reduced to a manageable level.

You can take the excess springtails and turn them into small cultures and sell on Kijiji, Amazon, or eBay for some extra bucks, Or keep them for your future projects. Just remember to feed them regularly, top off the water levels and allow the container to break at least once a day by opening it.