Where does the "spittle" on plants come from?

Photo: Arne Ader
Translation: Liis
Spittlebug foam on bedstraw (Galium)
 

Meadow spittlebug or froghopper Philaenus spumarius    
 
When the foamer’s larva emerges from the egg, it of course sets out to feed. Exploring the froth closer we can see that the “owner”, a yellowish-green, half-centimetre long thing, has pressed its strong beak into the stem of the plant to get at the sap. Digested sap foam seeps along the body of the larva. The spots of foam are visible from far off, but it is a protection mechanism all the same although unusual – whoever would pick at spittle?
 

The adult spittlebug can be black or pale yellow, with wings for flying and strong hind legs for jumping. But we don’t see it easily. The spittlebug has two eyes and two compound eyes and as a prudent survivor doesn’t want anyone to come too close ...



 

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