An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide – maryholland505@gmail.com

Spittlebugs

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Have you ever poked around inside one of those masses of bubbles that you see on grass and other plant stems? If so, chances are that you have discovered that an insect actually lives inside this frothy home – the immature stage (nymph) of a Spittlebug. It hangs head down while piercing the stem of the plant and ingests the sap. Because the sugar content is often very low, the nymph must drink a lot of sap in order to get the nutrition it needs. As a result, the Spittlebug pumps out the excess water from the tip of its abdomen, which amounts to 150 – 300 times its weight every 24 hours. During this process, oxygen and nymphal secretions cause the water to have a sticky, bubbly quality, and these sticky bubbles pour down over the nymph, creating a moist home that prevents the Spittlebug nymph from drying out and that discourages predators as it tastes bad. Once it has matured, the nymph metamorphoses into an adult Spittlebug (also called a Froghopper) and flies away.  (Photographs are of:  spittlebug “spit,” spittlebug nymph and adult spittlebug emerging from nymphal skin.)

3 responses

  1. That is incredibly cool, and answers a question I’ve had for a long time now. Thank you!

    June 1, 2012 at 8:10 pm

  2. Thank you, Keeyann. It’s so nice to know that I’m not the only one who finds these types of things interesting!

    June 1, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    • Ann

      Great shots. I always wondered what the adult looked like. Thanks!

      June 2, 2012 at 2:29 am

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