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"nest" of froghoppers (click on image to enlarge it)
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Vernacular names
• Deutsch: Schaumzikaden
• English: froghoppers
spittle bugs
• Español: cercópidos
• Français: cercopidés
• Português: baratinha

Cercopidae - (froghoppers, spittlebugs)

This family of plant-sucking insects contains around 3,000 species. It is is widely distributed, and is particularly common in the tropics and subtropics. Important pest species are, for example, Mahanarva fimbriolata in South America and Philaenus spumarius in North America and Europe.

The larvae of some species live underground feeding on roots, e.g. the sugarcane froghoppers of the genus Mahanarva. In those species feeding on aboveground plant parts, the larvae excrete and are covered by a frothy substance (spittle mass). This is believed to protect them from dessication and the larvae breath with a special tube-like process at the tip of the abdomen which sticks out of the spittle mass periodically.

The adults are medium-sized (5-20 mm), compact and together with their ability to jump has led to the name froghoppers. The colour is often a pattern of red and black. The eyes are circular in dorsal view and the head is narrower than the pronotum. The pronotum and scutellum form a strong plate which extends between the wing bases. The hind tibiae have 1 or 2 prominent spurs, but not rows of spines like the Cicadellidae.

The following genera are currently entered in the system: