froghopper or spittlebug, small, hopping insect of the order Homoptera. The adult, under 1/2 in. (1.2 cm) long in most species, is triangular in shape and usually gray or dull green to brown. Most froghoppers feed on plants and shrubs; a few feed on trees. They leap from plant to plant, seldom flying. Females insert their eggs in plant stems and sometimes cover them with a protective frothy material. When the nymphs, or larvae, emerge, they feed on the surface of the stem, sucking the plant juices. In many species the nymphs envelop themselves in a mass of foam (called spittle, frog spit, or cuckoo spit) made by blowing air through a viscid fluid expelled from the anus. The spittle, often conspicuous on grasses, protects the enclosed nymphs from desiccation and probably also from predators. Some froghopper species are injurious to pine trees and garden plants. Froghoppers are classified in the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, order Homoptera, family Cercopidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.