(231ORcin) Orchesella cincta (Linnaeus 1758)

*cingula (Templeton, 1835)
*fastuosa Nicolet, 1842
*filicornis Templeton, 1835
*melanocephala Nicolet, 1842
 *unifasciata Nicolet, 1842
  *vaga(Linnaeus, 1767)

Orchesella cincta is one of the most common species of Collembola in Britain and Ireland, also one of the largest, reaching at least 4.0 mm. The densely pigmented third abdominal segment is characteristic, although the level of pigmentation is somewhat variable (Figs. 1, 2, 3 and 4). This feauture gave the species its name - "cincta" means "belted" (as in the sense of wearing a belt).   Not surprisingly, this is one of the commoner Collembola to appear on macro-photography sites, such as here.  


As with other species of Orchesella, one or both antennae may be reduced in length, possibly due to damage during an earlier instar (Fig. 5).  Also as with other Orchesella, the first instars have only 4 antennal segments hence fail to key out sensibly (since the genus is keyed out on its 6-segented antennae).  Peter Shaw's garage roof supported a suspended soil community dominated by Orchesella cincta (along with the much scarcer Sminthurinus trinotatus), plus some tiny bluish puzzles that turned out to be merely first instar O. cincta.


This same species turned up all over the remote island of St Helena (fig. 5); presumably introduced accidentally with plants.  We can speculate whether it supplanted any endemic springtails, as is so often the way in island systems.



Distribution map for Orchesella cincta ( 231 ORcin); last updated 2012

Fig. 1: Orchesella cincta collected from a garden in Reading.

Fig. 3: Orchesella cincta collected from a garden in Reading.

Fig. 4: Orchesella cincta collected from a garden in Reading.

Orchesella cincta collected from St Helena by Howard Mendel, NHM

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