University of Kentucky Department of Entomology

Mystery Bug Answers

Mystery Picture #22

Mystery Picture #22

(Mystery Pictures)(Mystery Pictures)


The tick is a pest to domestic animals and humans. It is an external parasite that feeds on blood. It has a broadly oval, unsegmented body and 8 short legs. After it has fed it can balloon up to 12 times its normal weight. It is the primary vector of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. To read more about ticks in Kentucky, consult EntFact 618, Ticks and Disease.


These tiny wingless insects, called springtails, have distinctive heads and a hump-backed appearance. Their name comes from a forked structure attached to the underside of the abdomen which acts as a spring to flip them into the air. This behavior gives them the appearance of tiny fleas. They live in rich soil or leaf litter, under bark or decaying wood, or associated with fungi. Many are scavengers, feeding on decaying plants, fungi, molds, or algae.

EntFact 420, Springtails , will give you more information on these fascinating insects. Sometimes springtails can be a problem on household plants--to read more about keeping your houseplants healthy and free of pests, see EntFact 406, Houseplant Insect Control.

Some springtails produce light like fireflies do. Read more about them in Youthfact 807, A Beacon in the Night.

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