At a minuscule 1/16 of an inch long, you would think that a springtail is such a tiny creature that you wouldn't even notice him. Unfortunately, springtails travel in packs, creating biomasses large enough to disturb you, especially when clumps of them are floating in your pool. These small insects huddle together in moist areas, eating decaying materials and jumping high into the air when disturbed. They love moisture, and often find their way into swimming pools where they float on top of the water like small oil slicks. Skimming your pool will remove them. To prevent them, you'll need to turn off your pool lights, clean up pool surfaces and remove mulch or other wet materials from around your pool.
Everybody Out of the Pool
Springtails are small white, blue, gray or black creatures that hang out together in small swarms. They have no wings, but they do have a tail-like body part called the furcula that tucks under their abdomens. When disturbed, springtails quickly lower this furcula to launch themselves several inches into the air. Because they have no wings, they can't get back out of your swimming pool once they find their way in. Instead, they float on top of the water, creating an unappealing vibe.
Skimming the surface of the pool will get rid of the pests, but it won't necessarily kill them. To do that, fill a spray bottle with water and add a bit of dish soap. Spray the edges of the pool with the mixture and add a few squirts into the pool water. Doing so changes the surface tension of the water and causes the springtails to drown. You'll still need to skim the pool and get a little help from your pool filter to get rid of them, but at least bugs won't jump in your face or swarm you if you disturb them.
Light attracts springtails as it does most insects. Turning your pool lights on at night draws in springtails, so keep the lights turned off until you've fixed or minimized your springtail problem. Turn off any landscape lighting or other outdoor lights that are near your pool as well. Even if you don't shine lights directly on the pool, attracting springtails to any of your outdoor spaces puts them one step closer to the pool itself.
Springtails love moisture, so reducing the amount of it reduces their numbers. You clearly can't dry up your pool unless you empty it. But you can dry the area around it. Keep your yard free of rotting leaves, thick thatch and other moist, decomposing matter. Don't irrigate your garden or landscaping until it has thoroughly dried from its last watering, and minimize your mulch usage. If you notice springtails in your mulch, rake it up, bag it and dispose of it. Let the area dry out completely before mulching again and use the thinnest layer of mulch possible when you do. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth into and on top of your mulch to kill any springtails attempting to reestablish themselves in your flower beds.
If you have potted plants sitting on your pool deck, water them only when they are dry and don't let them sit in water. If you have a saucer sitting under the plant to catch drainage, dry the saucer after watering rather than allowing it to sit with water in it. Sprinkle some diatomaceous earth on the soil in potted plants, as well. Consider moving the plants away from the pool to minimize its attractiveness to springtails.
The Last Resort
Insecticidal sprays and treatments aren't recommended for springtail control, but you can try them if nothing else is working. Springtail treatment requires multiple applications of pyrethroid insecticides. It is paramount to avoid overspray and runoff when using this chemical, so it's best to have a professional apply the treatment. In some states, the laws may also require a professional application. If you opt for an exterminator, recognize that you'll likely pay for multiple treatments that may or may not eliminate your springtail problem. If you continue to see springtails, it doesn't necessarily mean your exterminator is doing a bad job.