A month or so ago I was leaving for work and I noticed a strange substance near the entrance to the house.  The substance was blue and my first thought was crushed chalk from my kids writing on the sidewalk.  Upon closer investigation I realized the substance was moving!  It was now clear to me that the substance wasn’t chalk, but a congregation of insects.  Naturally, I took pictures and collected a sample to bring into the county extension office…where I work.  I looked at the insects under the microscope, but I wasn’t able to determine the species.  So I sent some samples off to the University of Florida/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

A swarm of Desoria flora

A swarm of Desoria flora on damp, outdoor steps. Photo Credit: Matt Lollar, University of Florida/IFAS Extension – Santa Rosa County

The experts identified the specimens as Desoria flora, a species of springtail insects endemic to Florida and originally described in Alachua County in 1980.  Both entomologists thought it was unique the springtails were swarming.  Springtails live in leaf litter and upper layers of soils.  They are sometimes found in the potting mix of indoor and outdoor plants.  Clients bring springtail specimens in to the office for identification from time to time.  However, this was the first time I had seen them in a congregation.

A linear springtail

A linear springtail. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS

If you find interesting insects, plants, or fungi and want them identified, please bring them into your local Extension Office.  We’d be happy to help you identify the specimens.  But sometimes we have to mail things off to a specialist.