My new collembolacomposting bin all set-up and ready to roll!
In the last edition of the RWC email newsletter I included an article I wrote about “springtails” (Phylum” Arthropoda, Subclass: Collembola). These are tiny insect-like critters (they used to be included with the insects, but this is no longer the case) that are extremely common in a wide variety of different habitats – including various types of composting systems.
I’ve always been curious to know how significant a role they can play in the (worm-)composting process, since I know they love to eat microbes (primarily fungi, I believe) just as the worms themselves do. I joked in the newsletter about potentially setting up a “collembolacomposting” bin to see what these little guys can do on their own.
Well, today I decided to actually go ahead with the plan, and our collembolacomposting experiment is officially underway!
I have little doubt that springtails won’t be the ONLY critters in the bin. I don’t know how many of you have ever tried to capture springtails one at a time, but it’s NOT easy! I ended up having to add small amounts of compost along with some of these guys. I’m sure there will be various other eggs etc included with that material (even given the tiny amount added), and that we’ll start to see various mites etc popping up as well. The important thing is that there be NO earthworms!
Luckily, I happen to have a big plastic garbage can full of old leaves, grass clippings and food waste down in my basement (which will be added to my Winter Windrow fairly soon), so it was very easy to get the springtail bin set up this morning. I also ended up mixing in some other dry fall leaves I’ve had sitting around as well. Springtails seem to like conditions that are somewhat drier than those ideal for worm composting (one thing you will notice if you have these critters is that they come to the surface any time water is added, or when conditions just generally become wet down below).
As you can see, springtails are pretty tiny!
A close-up shot of the same springtails
Anyway – It should be fun to see how things develop in the bin!
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