Tuesday 21 May
Common froghopper (Philaenus spumarius)
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Common froghopper fact file
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Common froghopper description
This small, common froghopper is variably patterned with brown, black and white (1). The wings are held like a tent over the body (2). It has recently been discovered that this froghopper is the champion jumper of the animal kingdom, able to jump 70 cm into the air. This is a greater height than the flea, yet the froghopper is much heavier, so it has the most impressive jumping style. The back legs used in jumping are so well-developed in this species that they trail behind it when it walks around. The jump is so powerful that in the initial stages a G-force of over 400 gravities is generated. This is truly phenomenal considering that an astronaut rocketing out into orbit experiences G-forces of 5-gravities (3). Young froghoppers, known as nymphs, develop in frothy clumps that are popularly known as cuckoospit (1). Like all bugs (Hemiptera), the froghopper has specialised sucking mouthparts, which in this species are used to feed on plant sap (4).
- Also known as
- cuckoo spit, spittlebug.
- Length: 5.3-6.9 mm (1)
- The stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
- Stage of insect development, similar in appearance to the adult but sexually immature and without wings. The adult form is reached via a series of moults and the wings develop externally as the nymph grows.
National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (January2004):
RSPB (February 2004):
Amos, J. Garden insect is Jump Champion- BBC News Online (February 2004):
Martin. J. Hemiptera
It’s a Bug’s Life (February 2004):
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Common froghopper biology
Adults and nymphs are present between June and September (2). As with most bugs, individuals mate ‘back to back’ (4). All bugs have a type of insect development known as ‘hemimetabolous development’ in which there is no larval stage but a number of wingless nymphs instead which resemble the adult form (4). The nymphs of this species are protected by their covering of froth, which they create by blowing air into a fluid excreted from their anus. They feed on plant tissues below this protective covering, which also prevents them from drying out (2).Top
Common froghopper range
Common throughout Britain (1).Top
Common froghopper habitatTop
Common froghopper status
Not threatened (2).Top
Common froghopper threats
This species is not threatened (2).Top
Common froghopper conservation
Conservation action is not required for this common species.Top
Find out more
For more on bugs see the Natural History Museum website:
For more on invertebrates, their conservation and details of how to get involved see Buglife, the invertebrate conservation trust:
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