Have you ever been walking through the meadow and come across white, frothy foam on the grass? While it may resemble something rather gross, this is the larvae of an insect called a froghopper (family Cercopidae). The adults earned their common name due to their superior jumping ability, up to 70cm (that’s about 27½ inches). Imagine if you could jump 100 times your height…
The larvae, spittlebugs, were quite plentiful in the field at the beginning of the Vernal Pool Trail earlier this week. Each larva created a protective coating, keeping them safe from predators and people. Who would want to touch spit? A naturalist, of course! Go ahead and get a closer look at the spittlebug by carefully poking at the foam. I read somewhere that the foam tastes terrible, which would deter predators. I am not going to taste it though, I have to draw the line somewhere.
Inside their foamy home, the spittlebugs are feasting on plant sap. Once they mature, the adults will no longer produce this foam and will go pretty much unnoticed (by us) in the field. The next time you are out for a walk and you see the spittlebug, take a moment to admire and appreciate this little curiosity. Then see how high YOU can jump.
Have a Happy & Safe Fourth of July!