Monday, June 24, 2013

Have Your Ears Checked, Springtails May Be Why You Can't Hear the Truth

There's an abundance of information out there related to Collembola/Springtails, just as there is to Morgellons and other unexplained illness.  However, there are rarely any of the two that are openly intertwined. 

Here's a few more facts regarding these prehistoric "friends" of ours.  What they don't say is that they can be found living in the silk of corn ears that you buy, etc. YUM, extra protein!  NOT.



R.L. Koch, M.A. Carrillo, and W.D. Hutchison Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota


click to enlargeThough considered insects by some people, springtails (Collembolla) belong to a more primitive group of arthropods, called the Ellipura. Springtails inhabit many different regions of the world, and are even able to survive the extreme conditions of Antarctica. To date, 6000 species are known worldwide; however, in North America, fewer than 20 species cause damage to crops. Springtails live in humid environments such as leaf litter, under the bark of the trees, worm beds, snow fields, and nests built by social insects. In indoor environments, these organisms can inhabit dark, humid places such as basements, bathrooms, sinks and drainages. Springtails are thought to be the second most abundant group of soil-dwelling organisms in the world, only after the soil-dwelling mites. In general, springtails can have population densities ranging from 300 million to 1.4 billion per acre depending on factors such as humidity and organic matter content.


click to enlargeSpringtails are minute six-legged arthropods with a body size generally ranging from 0.25 to 8 mm long, although some reach up to 10 mm (see photos). These organisms have only 6 abdominal segments, lack wings and their body color varies greatly from white to pale brown to red to purple. In some instances, they may also have elaborate patterns on their bodies.

click to enlargeThe word “collembola” originates from the Greek words kola, meaning glue, and embolon, meaning peg, referring to a ventral appendage (i.e., the collophore). The collophore was once believed to serve as an attaching mechanism, but is now believed to have importance in maintaining water balance. The common name “springtail” refers to the ability of these organisms to “jump” when disturbed , or during mating. Springtails can jump (up to 100 mm) with the help of a forked appendage, called the furcula, at the tip of the abdomen (see black&white image at top of page). The furcula is generally bent forward and held close to the underside of the abdomen. The furcula can be rapidly extended backwards propelling the individual into the air. However, in some species this mechanism has atrophied.

Biology and Life Cycle

Springtails are generally considered to be detritivores (i.e., feed on decaying organic matter), but some species are herbivores or carnivores. Many of these organisms feed on decaying plant material, fungi, bacteria, arthropod feces, algae and pollen. Their mouthparts can be either chewing-biting or piercing-sucking.
Springtails present an ametabolous life cycle, meaning that they do not undergo metamorphosis. Females can lay up to 400 eggs during their lifetime. Eggs are about 0.2 mm in diameter, spherical, and are laid singly or in clusters. After about 10 days, the eggs hatch into juveniles (hatching rate is temperature dependent). Juvenile stages are similar to the adult stages, but they are smaller and without reproductive organs. In about 6 days, and after 5-8 molts, juveniles become adults. Adults will continue to molt, and are long lived with some individuals living for more than one year. An individual may experience up to 40-50 molts during its lifetime.


click to enlargeclick to enlargeAs stated before, most springtails feed primarily on decaying organic matter, and are rarely seen as crop pests. However, some species, such as the garden springtail, Bourltiella hortensis Fitch, feed on living plant tissues, generally preferring young leaves. Feeding from these herbivorous species results in small holes and surface scarring on the leaves (see photos, left). The damage resembles that of flea beetles. Roots are also fed on by some species, such as Onychiurus spp. Springtails have been reported feeding on many different vegetable crops, for example: beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrot, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, lettuce, onion, pea, potato, pumpkin, radish, spinach, squash, tomato and watermelon. Turf and ornamental plants are also sometimes fed on by springtails. In Australia, alfalfa is attacked by the lucerne flea, Sminthurus viridis. Not surprisingly, the humid conditions and abundance of organic matter in mushroom cellars can contribute to outbreaks of Hypogastrura armata on commercial mushrooms. Feeding within a crop often occurs over only a small area, but will occasionally be more expansive, and in rare occasions result in loss of an entire crop.
Aside from the agricultural setting, springtails can also attain pest status in urban environments. Under humid conditions, large numbers of springtails will sometimes move into buildings from nearby compost or other organic matter. Once in a home, the presence alone of springtails can be a nuisance to home owners. Springtails can also become a nuisance in the potting soil of household plants, if the soil is kept too moist. In the food processing industry, springtails can be considered secondary pests when unintentionally incorporated into final food products.


Springtails can be sampled using visual inspection of plants, pitfall traps, or various soil sampling techniques. Despite the potential for occasional crop damage, and the ability to sample springtails, the authors are unaware of any sampling plans or action thresholds for these pests on any vegetable crops.
Cultural techniques can be used to mitigate potential pest pressure from springtails. To lessen the likelihood of springtails occurring on crops, avoid planting into fields with high levels of organic matter. This includes organic matter from crop residues or organic matter that has been applied to the field. There is also some evidence that soils which produce deep cracks upon drying can promote the survival of springtails during drought conditions.
Insecticide use for springtail management is generally not necessary. However, granular and liquid soil treatments, as well as foliar treatments are available. A variety of products containing active ingredients such as diazinon, chlorpyrifos, malathion, and carbaryl are labeled for use against springtails. However, many of these labels are for use on turf or ornamental plants, not vegetable or field crops. Be sure to read and follow the pesticide label.

Selected References

Capinera, J.L. 2001. Handbook of Vegetable Pests. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
Cranshaw, W. 2004. Garden Insects of North America: the Ultimate Guide to Backyard
Bugs. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
Evans, H.E. 1968. Life on a little known planet. E.P. Dutton & Co., New York, NY.
Lyon, W.F. Springtails. Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet. HYG-2070-98.

Friday, June 21, 2013

One World, One Chance: Fossil Fuel Use and Abuse

Well, we all know just how horrific the oil industry has become in its fight to control, and 'be' the "powers that be."  Many don't understand, however, just what level of damage fossil fuel use and abuse has, and WILL CAUSE our planet, our one world.  We have only one chance.  Let's figure out how to move away from depletion to self-sustained existence and preservation.


Fossil fuels facts

Fossil fuels are formed by the anaerobic decomposition of remains of organisms including phytoplankton and zooplankton that settled to the sea (or lake) bottom in large quantities under anoxic conditions, millions of years ago.

Fossil fuels are oil, coal and natural gas. In 2006 primary sources of energy consisted of petroleum 36.8%, coal 26.6%, and natural gas 22.9%, amounting to an 86% share for fossil fuels in primary energy production in the world.

Crude oil is a smelly, yellow-to-black liquid and is usually found in underground areas called reservoirs. Scientists and engineers explore a chosen area by studying rock samples from the earth. Measurements are taken, and, if the site seems promising, drilling begins.

Coal is a readily combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock normally occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds.

Natural gas is a gas consisting primarily of methane. It is found associated with fossil fuels, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is created by methanogenic organisms in marshes, bogs, and landfills.

Fossil fuels - current US energy picture.

Fossil fuels are non-renewable resources because they take millions of years to form, and reserves are being depleted much faster than new ones are being formed.

All fossil fuels are made of hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons store energy in the form of the atomic bonds. Energy stored in hydrocarbons can be released very easy - we just have to burn them.

When fossil fuels are burned carbon and hydrogen react with oxygen in air to carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). During this reaction heat is released which further amplifies the reaction.

One of the biggest benefits of fossil fuels is their cost. Coal, oil and natural gas are abundant right now and relatively inexpensive to drill or mine for.

At current usage, the coal supply will last 1500 years. However at a 5% growth rate the coal supply will last only 86 years. We can expect even greater usage as other fossil fuels become scarce.

Coal energy yield depends on how much carbon is contained in it. Two types dominate US reserves. Anthracite is 95% carbon and is approximately 300 million years old. Lignite is 25% carbon is nearly 150 million years old.

An oil refinery is an industrial process plant where crude oil is processed and refined into more useful petroleum products, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt base, heating oil, kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas.

To run a 100-watt light bulb 24 hours a day for a year we need to use about 714 pounds (325 kg) of coal in coal powered power plant (thermal efficiency of such power plant is typically abut 40%).

Fossil fuels are also overwhelmingly responsible for fueling our transportation system. Petroleum-based fuels are the standard.

One liter of regular gasoline is the time-rendered result of about 23.5 tonnes of ancient organic material deposited on the ocean floor.

The total fossil fuel used in the year 1997 is the result of 422 years of all plant matter that grew on the entire surface and in all the oceans of the ancient earth.

Burning fossil fuels is responsible for environmental issues that are high on the political agenda these days. Examples are greenhouse gas accumulation, acidification, air pollution, water pollution, damage to land surface and ground-level ozone.

Consequence of oil spills. Fossil fuels cause direct and indirect pollution.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Springtails: The history of their origin and more

I extracted the following from  Amazing creatures that will outlive us all.



Collembola are also known as snow fleas or springtails. They are very small arthropods, generally measuring two to three millimeters in length, with some reaching one centimeter. They have highly variable colouring: red, blue, orange, yellow, pink, etc. They have four-segment antennae on their heads and from one to eight simple eyes grouped into a mass on each side, giving the impression of two distinct eyes. They are always apterous (wingless). Their abdomen has only six segments and carries the collophore and furca (or furcula). The collophore is used to suck liquids, to maintain bodily water balance, and plays a role in respiration. In the aquatic members of the species, the collophore facilitates adhesion to the surface of the water and stabilizes the individual in the wind. It is this organ that explains the group’s scientific name: ‘kola’, which means adhesive, and ‘embolos’, meaning plug or anything inserted. The furca is a forked appendage folded under the abdomen and held in place by the retinaculum (little hook); it acts as a spring and is used to propel the individual into the air. The furca also enables it to escape from predators. Thanks to this appendage, Collembola can high-jump 50 to 100 times the length of their body. Unfortunately for them, they have no control over this movement and can land just about anywhere, and often come down in the same spot. Unlike insects, most Collembola have no trachea (respiratory organ) or Malpighian tubes (excretory organs).

Biology and behaviour

Collembola are ametobolous insects, i.e. the individual that emerges from the egg is similar to the adult, but smaller, and with no mature reproductive system. Collembola can moult four or five times before attaining sexual maturity. Once they reach the adult stage, they will continue to moult periodically, unlike most insects. Each moult is preceded by a period of intense fasting so that the old tegument can be shed more easily. Reproduction in this group is variable. Some species perform elaborate sexual displays; others reproduce by parthenogenesis (female clones). But the males generally produce a spermatophore (an envelope containing the spermatozoons) that the female introduces into her genital tract. When the eggs are laid, the females sometimes coat them with a sticky substance to protect them against environmental conditions and predators. Collembola have a very short life cycle and can reach sexual maturity in less than three weeks.

Places where they can be found

Collembola are present in almost all habitats, except in the middle of lakes and oceans. They can be found in forest and farm soil, under moss, leaf beds, bark and stones, the tops of trees, in plants, on volcanoes and glaciers, in caves, etc. Some species live in salt water, others in fresh water. They are at home in places with high humidity and where organic materials are plentiful. They can reach a density of as many as 100,000 individuals per square meter, and up to 10 million per cubic meter. Collembola can also be found in dwellings. They prefer humid places such as basements, kitchens and bathrooms, as well as recent constructions where the wood, plaster and concrete are still moist. They can also be found in indoor plant soil. Despite their great numbers, Quebec’s Collembolan do not usually cause any damage and are harmless to humans, plants and other animals. However, the species Bourletellia hortensis is known for ravaging strawberry and raspberry plants. Spreading an insecticide on the plants usually solves the problem.

Ecological role

Collembola have a very significant ecological role to play since it is they who break down organic materials, transport fungus spores, and ensure microbial balance. Apart from their ecological role, they also represent a food source for various animals such as ants, beetles, lizards, frogs, small fish, etc. They feed mainly on fungus, spores, decomposing plant or animal materials, bacteria, plants, and small invertebrates.

Control methods

In light of their significant ecological role, Collembolan populations should never be controlled in their natural environment. On the other hand, when they are present in dwellings, it’s a different matter entirely. One simple and effective control method is to dry out rooms that are excessively humid. Repairing water leaks and installing a dehumidifier or fan should suffice. You should also eliminate bathroom mould and get rid of any other moist or mouldy objects. Minimizing the use of mulch around house foundations is also recommended.

Other interesting facts

Collembola have very primitive characteristics and have apparently been around since the Devonian period some 400 million years ago. Individuals from that era are identical to those of today. Because of their morphological traits, taxonomists no longer consider them insects. The current classification dissociates Entognatha (Collembola, Protura, Diplura) from Insects. Some taxonomists consider them closer to crustaceans than insects.
Collembola species that live in dry environments are physically adapted to their habitats and often have bodies covered with scales or silk to help reduce water loss.
Another interesting fact is that Collembola are often used as a main diet to feed animals living in a terrarium (frogs, lizards, etc.). Because of their small size and high nutritional value, they are an ideal foodstuff and are much more nourishing than Drosophila.