Cuckoo-spit. What the heck is it?

I’ve been doing  a lot of some things and not much of other things.  Since the wedding and the advent of summer, Steve and I have been doing lots of socialising with friends old and new, completing the feathering of our nest, and I have been finishing two quilts to enter into the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham.  For the past few weeks, I haven’t been moved to write on either of my blogs, or participate much in my online community.   However, I have been practicing the gentle art of doing nothing.   I’ve been relaxing at home, reading, visiting a certain feline friend of mine, running in the countryside surrounding my village, cooking summer foods, watching movies and not a whole lot else.

For now, here is one of my latest discoveries .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Nothing says summertime in England quite like cuckoo-spit.

The name cuckoo-spit is said to have derived from the arrival of the spittle on plants which coincided with the first call of the cuckoo in spring. There are also oblique references to superstitions about spitting, whenever a cuckoo is heard, to avoid bad luck. Cuckoo-spit is the white, frothy substance found on certain plants during the spring and early summer. It is produced by the froghopper, or ‘cuckoo-spit insect’ which is also sometimes called the ‘spittle-bug’.

The froghopper is an insect.  A member of the order Homoptera, best known for the nymph stage, which produces a cover of frothed-up plant sap resembling spit.  The froth serves a number of purposes. It hides the nymph from the view of predators and parasites, it insulates against heat and cold, thus providing thermal control and also moisture control. Without the froth the bug would quickly dry up. The nymphs pierce plants and suck sap.  Much of the excess filtered fluids go into the production of the froth, which has an acrid taste, deterring predators.

Now that I know what the heck it is and the little buggers are probably beyond the larva stage, maybe I’ll see if I can find a froghopper under some cuckoo-spit.

Info source:  Wikipedia


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