Forming the superfamily Cercopoidea, Froghoppers are tiny insects that have made their mark with the saliva-like substance left by nymphs that stick to plants. This substance earned the nymph form the name “Spittlebug.” The frothy spit keeps the nymph out of sight of predators and parasites, tastes bitter to ensure nothing eats the nymph, protects the nymph from heat or cold and provides moisture for the nymph. Safe and comfortable inside its liquid shell, the nymph will puncture the plant and lap up the sap. Once metamorphosed into an adult, the little insect jumps up to 70 cm vertically to get from plant to plant, seldom needing their wings. This gives it a higher jump height to body weight ratio than that of fleas.
This evening, I found a Two-lined Froghopper clinging to the side of my house and snapped some quick pictures. While there are 2000 species of Froghoppers in the world, this species is the most common in the Southeastern US. It can be easily identified by a black body interrupted by two orange-red lines. However, they can be hard to spot as they usually only reach 8-10 mm in length. The adult of this species feeds on the underside of the leaves of holly trees (we have two in our backyard). I was quite delighted to find such an intriguing, smart little athlete on my house!