Sminthurus viridis (lucerne flea)

Sminthurus viridis is a springtail and not actually a flea.

It can ‘spring’ thanks to a specially-adapted appendage that protrudes from its abdomen.

It lives on the soil surface in a variety of habitats including grassland and woodland, and feeds on leguminous plants.  

The species is native to Europe, but it is a pest on crops in countries in the southern hemisphere, including Australia and can reduce crop yields by up to 50 per cent.

Species detail

  • Sminthurus viridis
    Taxonomy

    For a long time, springtails were thought of as insects, but some recent studies have shown they may belong to a separate class - the Collembola. Discover some of their distinguishing features.

  • Sminthurus viridis
    Distribution

    Sminthurus viridis is native to Europe, where it lives in grassland and woodland. Find out what it likes to eat.

  • Sminthurus viridis
    Biology

    Springtails have an incomplete lifecycle without larval or pupal stages. Find out how they reproduce.

  • Sminthurus viridis
    Behaviour

    Unlike most springtails that eat decaying plant matter, Sminthurus viridis feasts on live plant material.  In Australia it can decimate crops such as clover and lucerne. Find out what can be done to control this pest.

  • Sminthurus viridis
    References

    Get reference material for Sminthurus viridis.

Distribution map

A world map showing the distribution of Sminthurus viridis

Distribution of Sminthurus viridis

Global distribution of Sminthurus viridis © CAB International 2007

Images

Sminthurus viridis

Sminthurus viridis.

© Thierry Legrand
Sminthurus viridis

Sminthurus viridis.

© Thierry Legrand
Sminthurus viridis

Sminthurus viridis with brown mottled pigmentation.

© Scott Thompson
Sminthurus viridis

Sminthurus viridis.

© Thierry Legrand
Sminthurus viridis

Sminthurus viridis.

© Brian Valentine
Sminthurus viridis

Sminthurus viridis eating layers of a leaf.

© Johnathan Michaelson
Sminthurus viridis

Sminthurus viridis.

© Johnathan Michaelson
Sminthurus viridis

Slide-mounted specimen of Sminthurus viridis, stained with carmine.  From Natural History Museum’s collection.

© Natural History Museum, London, Francisca Sconce
Sminthurus viridis

Furca of Sminthurus viridis, on slide-mounted specimen, cleared with 10 percent NaOH.  From Natural History Museum’s collection.

© Natural History Museum, London, Francisca Sconce
Author

Francisca Sconce
Department of Entomology

A word from the author

"Sminthurus viridis is a tiny and charismatic invertebrate that can cause a surprising amount of damage considering its size!"

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