Cercopidae

From WikiMD's Wellness Encyclopedia

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Dawsonites veter Scudder 1895 pl1 Fig10

Cercopidae, commonly known as froghoppers or spittlebugs, are a family of small, jumping insects belonging to the order Hemiptera. They are best known for the nymph stage, during which they produce a frothy mass of bubbles, often referred to as "spittle," in which they live and feed. The family Cercopidae is diverse, with over 2,300 species described across various genera.

Description[edit | edit source]

Cercopidae members are characterized by their strong hind legs, which they use for jumping from plant to plant, a behavior that has earned them the name froghoppers. Adult froghoppers are typically 4 to 12 mm in length and exhibit a wide range of colors and patterns, which often serve as camouflage against predators. The nymphs are less conspicuous, spending most of their developmental stages hidden within the spittle masses on plants.

Life Cycle[edit | edit source]

The life cycle of Cercopidae includes egg, nymph, and adult stages. Females lay eggs on host plants, and upon hatching, the nymphs begin to feed on plant sap. As they feed, nymphs excrete a liquid that they beat into a froth with their hind legs, creating the protective spittle. This froth serves multiple purposes: it hides the nymph from predators, insulates against temperature extremes, and prevents dehydration. After several molts within this frothy home, the nymphs emerge as adults, ready to mate and continue the cycle.

Ecology[edit | edit source]

Cercopidae are found worldwide, inhabiting a variety of ecosystems from tropical rainforests to temperate gardens. They feed on a wide range of plants, including grasses, shrubs, and trees. While generally not considered major agricultural pests, some species can cause damage to crops through their feeding activities. Their ecological role extends beyond being mere herbivores; the spittle masses provide microhabitats for other small organisms, and froghoppers themselves are prey for various insectivores.

Taxonomy[edit | edit source]

The taxonomy of Cercopidae is complex, with species classified into several genera based on morphological characteristics. This family is part of the larger superfamily Cercopoidea, which also includes the closely related families Aphrophoridae and Clastopteridae.

Research and Conservation[edit | edit source]

Research on Cercopidae spans various fields, including entomology, ecology, and agriculture. Studies have focused on their life cycle, feeding behavior, and impact on plant health. Conservation efforts for froghoppers are generally aimed at preserving their natural habitats, which are crucial for the survival of both nymphs and adults.

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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD