(261FOcan) Folsomia candida (Willem 1902)

*cavicola Cassagnau & Delamare Deboutteville, 1955
*distincta Bagnall, 1939
*kingi Bagnall, 1939

Folsomia candida (Figs. 1, 2 and 3) has been employed in hundreds of laboratory experiments as the 'standard' springtail. It is white with 0+0 ocelli and reaches a maximum length of 2.6 mm. The ratio of the length of the longest setae at the tip of the abdomen/length of mucro is between about 2.0 and 4.0 in British/Irish material. The manubrium has numerous (16-32) ventral (anterior) setae (Fig. 4). The dens has 20-40 ventral (anterior) setae and 7-10 dorsal (posterior) setae. The PAO is quite broad and is shorter than the width of ant1 (Fig. 5).

While working through the Folsomia material in the NHML collection, Steve Hopkin discovered several misidentifications of Folsomia candida for Folsomia fimetaria and vice versa. A good character for separating the species is that Folsomia candida has 2+2 or 3+3 setae on the ventral side of the third thoracic segment (Fig. 6) whereas these are absent in Folsomia fimetaria.

Folsomia candida is a very common and widespread species which has been found in a variety of habitats including soil, caves and glasshouses.  This is one of the most synanthropic springtails; several of the specimens in the NHML slide collection were captured in the Museum itself 'in flowerpots' and 'eating the Bogman'! It was common in accumulations of organic matter in Steve's garden in Reading, and has been brought in to Peter as infestions in students' house plant pots.  The most bizarre circumstance yet was a phasmid collector who used a culture of springtails to eat fungal hyphae off the phasmid eggs, protecting them from moulds.  When sent to Peter, these proved to be Folsomia candida.

In the wild this species is found in caves and in soils.  Apparently this species was found in cave systems in the US, and their population genetics used to infer movements between cave systems.  A sleeping bag abandoned in a deep welsh cave acted as an inoculum of Folsomia candida (as had to be removed to protect the cave's indigenous Collembola).  In soils it seems to prefer warm dry sites, but has probably been extensively confused with Folsomia fimetaria.

 

 

 

Fig. 1: Folsomia candida from the Reading University culture. Adult female (1.8 mm) with eggs.

Fig. 2: Folsomia candida from the Reading University culture. Adult female (2.0 mm).

Fig. 3: Folsomia candida from the Reading University culture. Adult females (2 mm in length) with juveniles.

Fig. 4: Folsomia candida collected from a flower pot in the Natural History Museum London in 1985 by M.N. Wetton. The manubrium (ma) and dens (d) have numerous ventral (anterior) setae.

Fig. 5: Folsomia candida collected from 'Longships lighthouse', Cornwall in February 1941. The PAO is quite broad and is shorter than the width of the first antennal segment (ant1).

Fig. 6: Ventral side of third thoracic segment of Folsomia candida collected from a flower pot in the Natural History Museum London in 1985 by M.N. Wetton. Folsomia candida has 2+2 (arrows) (or 3+3) setae in this position (these setae are absent from Folsomia fimetaria).

 


 
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