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There is Foam All Over Stanley Park!

Okay, okay… I know this is a strange topic for a post, but I’m going to run with it. I’ve been seeing something strange all over the park for the last couple of weeks. It looks like someone’s been having a bubble bath and leaving the remnants of their frothy tub all over the park. Either that, or a whipped egg-white food fight has been going on after dark. Here’s an example of what I mean:

 Foam at Stanley Park - spotted in late May.

Foam at Stanley Park - spotted in late May.

And another example: 

 More foam - spotted in early June.

More foam - spotted in early June.

Last week when I was pulling ivy with the Eco-Stewards, I asked our group leader, Ivy, about these foamy blotches. She said that they came from spittlebugs. Spittlebugs! Bugs that spit foam? I started to think of every alien film I’d ever seen.

It turns out (not surprisingly) that those first thoughts and images flashing through my brain were incorrect. After doing some research, I found out that adult spittlebugs (also called froghoppers – in the Cercopidae family of insects, in case you are curious) are insects that look like a cross between a beetle, a grasshopper, and a tiny frog. They lay their eggs in the joints of plants between summer and winter, and then the overwintered eggs begin to hatch in May. The newly hatched spittlebugs excrete a foamy substance that insulates them, keeps them moist, and hides them from predators. Here's a great picture of an adult spittlebug taken by Sean McCann:

Spittlebug on Stinging Nettle

For your further enjoyment, I found this YouTube video of a spittlebug nymph in action. Fast forward to 0:25 to see the bug start to bubble!