T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Springtail (Holacanthella paucispinosa)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Class: Entognatha
Subclass: Collembola
Order:  Poduromorpha
Suborder: Neanuroidea
Family: Neanuridae
Genus: Holacanthella
Species: H. paucispinosa
Scientific name: Holacanthella paucispinosa
Synonym: Ceratrimeria paucispinosa

Holacanthella paucispinosa is a uniquely large species of Neanurid springtail that is endemic to New Zealand. Springtails are small, six legged, wingless arthropods that differs from the actual insects by having the mouth jaws in a cavity in the head. They also lack compound eyes. 
Holacanthella paucispinosa soft (>13 mm) body can be the size of a small woodlouse. The body is divided into the head, the thorax with three segments, and the abdomen with six segments. The head bears a pair of antennae, two postantennal organs, eyes and mouthparts. They are a blue grey colour with the bright yellow spikes. There are colour morphs of orange and red. Holacanthella paucispinosa are reliant on rotting hardwood logs for nutrients. 

Holacanthella paucispinosa cannot vault into the air like the majority of springtails as they body weight is too massive to fling themselves about, so they've lost their furca. Most springtails they have the ability to vault into the air. This bouncy behaviour is achieved with a fleshy tail structure called the furca (meaning “little fork”), it is held under tension under the abdomen. When a springtail senses danger it can release the furcula, driving it into the ground and flinging the animal as far as 10-15 cm away from the threat.

Photo of a yellow morph.