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Reddish Vale Country Park

The froghoppers, or the superfamily Cercopoidea, are a group of Hemipteran insects, and are best known for the nymph stage, which produces a cover of frothed-up plant sap resembling spit; the nymphs are therefore commonly known as spittlebugs, or spit bugs, and their froth as cuckoo spit, frog spit or snake spit.

 

The froth serves a number of purposes. It hides the nymph from the view of predators and parasites, it insulates against heat and cold, thus providing thermal control and also moisture control. Without the froth the bug would quickly dry up. The nymphs pierce plants and suck sap causing damage, and much of the excess filtered fluids go into the production of the froth, which has an acrid taste, deterring predators. A few species are serious agricultural pests.

 

Adult froghoppers jump from plant to plant; some species can jump up to 70 cm vertically: a more impressive performance relative to body weight than fleas. The Frog Hopper can accelerate at 4,000 m/s2 over 2mm as it jumps (experiencing over 400 gs of acceleration).

Froghopper

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Below, Cercopis vulnerata Red-and-black Froghopper

A truly unmistakable species, and one of our largest homopterans. The nymphs are rarely seen, as they feed on underground roots.

 

Adults are found in mainland Britain south of the Scottish Highlands, in a variety of wooded and open habitats.

       

Adult: April to August

Length 9-11 mm

Froghopper