Who spit on my plants? The gold medal jumper of the insect world, that’s who.
You should be relieved to know that it’s a bug with this kind of street cred. These insects can jump farther than any other animal relative to their size. Their jumping can create around 400G in gravitational force (astronauts experience about 5G).
Regularly known as “Spittlebugs” for the spit-like junk they leave on your plants the Froghopper is also known as “Cuckoo Spit,” “Frog Spit,” or “Snake Spit.” Biologists widely agree that their names are pretty spitty.
So what is that spit? I’m glad you asked, because I rarely get to use the phrase “hemimetabolous development” in conversation with my friends. You probably now wonder if I even have friends.
Well I do.
Anyway, hemimetabolous development is the riveting story of incomplete metamorphosis which means it goes: egg, nymph, adult rather than egg, larva, pupa, adult (like butterflies). The ‘spit’ is a protective froth that covers the nymph to keep its temperature regulated, hidden from predators, and prevents it it from drying out during this delicate stage.
Is it hurting the plant? Sometimes. The nymph inside their spit cloud pierces the plant and suck its juices like tiny six-legged vampires. In large agricultural situations, they can cause quite a bit of damage but in most perennial gardens, they are only a temporary visitor and the plants can recover from any vampire damage incurred.
I made this video for extra bonus information and to show the nymph inside its froth. Its fifty seconds of awesome that you don’t want to miss.