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(springtails), an order of primitively wingless insects. Many taxonomists treat the Collembola as a special class. Springtails range in length from 0.2 to 2 mm; rarely are they as long as 5 to 10 mm. There are soil forms of Collembola, such as Tullbergia, which have unpigmented skin and a homonomously dissected abdomen and lack eyes and spring. Such semi-soil types as Istoma have a weakly developed spring, while forms that inhabit the forest litter, for example, Tomocerus, have a strong spring and well-developed eyes. Forms such as Sminthurus, which live on plants, have a well-developed spring, eyes, a fused body, and tracheas.
Springtails are very common in woods, steppes, and meadows; hundreds of thousands of them are found per sq m. Most are saprophagans or feed on the mycelium of fungus; there are also predators and scavengers. Springtails play a large part in soil formation and in the cycle of materials in an ecosystem. Some live on the surface of water (fresh waters and sea), and there are numerous cave forms. Some species, for example, Sminthurus viridis, damage plants, particularly legumes. Fossil springtails have been traced to Devonian deposits.
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Zhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol 3. Moscow, 1969.
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Stach, J. The Apterygotan Fauna of Poland in Relation to the World Fauna of This Group of Insects, vols. 1–9. Kraków, 1947–63.
M. S. GILIAROV