Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bubble Bugs

As I have walked around our neighborhood, I have noticed the spittle bugs are active in most yards. This morning, to make the twice-daily walk more interesting, I counted the bubble blobs in the grass as I went. I counted two short of fifty. They will only be noticeable for a few weeks.

Inside this collection of bubbles below is one bug.

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There are thousands of species of spittle bugs. They go through 7 stages from egg to maturity. Eggs are laid in the late summer and remain through the winter, hatching the next spring. They have five stages, called instars, as a nymph. It is while in the nymph stages that the spittle bubbles are produced.

This is accomplished by a body excretion and the bug uses it back feet to work the bubbles around itself. The bubbles provide cover from predators, help to control their temperature and keep their soft bodies from drying out. I have only seen them in the grass in places where it is full sun or nearly so.

The adults have hard shells and do not need the bubbles. They have strong spines on their hind legs giving them amazing jumping ability.

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1 comment:

wlhawh said...

I haven't thought about those in years. My sister and I would hunt for them every summer. They were loike the firefly a symbol of summer.