Hopper hunt: Woodland Hoppers (Arcitalitrus dorrieni) in Worcestershire?
Do we have woodland hoppers Arcitalitrus dorrieni in Worcestershire? I saw my first this year when scrabbling in leaf-mould under rhododendrons on Tresco in the Isles of Scilly. They’re amphipods native to Australia and New Zealand, which look like the small sandhoppers we see on the beach and leap frantically in all directions when disturbed , making them difficult to catch. The Scilly hoppers originated from a mainland nursery which specialised in imports of plants from New Zealand and since their first appearance in 1925 they have become well-established on all islands in conifer plantations , gardens and under hedges. They’re also becoming established throughout south-west England and have even made it to the Inner Hebrides, so they could be lurking somewhere in Worcestershire.
In Bristol, they are locally common in gardens where they hide under stones, bark and in leaf litter. Females lay up to 70 eggs and youngster numbers peak in August and September. They feed on dead leaves and other detritus. Another species, Arcitalitrus sylvaticus , also from the Antipodes, is also at large in the UK, though its distribution is less well-known. We’d be fascinated to hear of any county records - any “springtails” which seem over-active are worth investigating!