(415 SMvir) Sminthurus viridis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Sminthurus viridis is a widespread and very common species found in a wide variety of habitats including grasslands and crops such as clover. The species has been introduced to Australia and New Zealand where it is a serious pest of legumes and is known as the 'Lucerne Flea'.  Although not normally a problem in the UK, an infestation of Sminthurus viridis damaged an experimental clover crop so badly that insecticide had to be used.


Sminthurus viridis is a relatively large greenish or yellowish brown springtail reaching 3.0 mm in length. The fourth antennal segment (ant4) is divided into 18 subsegments. Some setae on the third antennal segment (ant3) are longer than others. Both edges of the mucro are smooth (Fig. 1). The female sub-anal appendages (SAA) are not branched at the tip. The empodium on the foot is longer than the claw and bears a long filament (Fig. 2).


Sminthurus viridis is almost identical in appearance to Sminthurus nigromaculatus. The only differences are in the colouration of the dorsal side of the sixth abdominal segment (no spots in Sminthurus viridis - two dark spots in Sminthurus nigromaculatus) and the number of setae on the subcoxa of the third leg (one in Sminthurus viridis (see Fig. 3) two in Sminthurus nigromaculatus).

 

UK distribution of Sminthurus viridis, updated July 2013.

Sminthurus viridis in life. Photo by Joe Botting. Note the many (18) subsegments on ant IV.

 

 

 

Fig. 1: Distal furca of Sminthurus viridis collected from Kew Gardens in July 1955 by Peter Lawrence.

 

 

Fig. 2: Foot of the third leg of Sminthurus viridis collected from High Elms, Kent (John Lubbock's garden!) in June 1963 by Peter Lawrence.

 

 

Fig. 3: Part of the third leg of the same specimen of Sminthurus viridis shown in Fig. 1. The subcoxa of the leg near where it joins the third thoracic segment bears one seta.

 
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