Over In The Meadow: Life Engineering

Knitting is engineering with linear materials to create a three-dimensional product.

Over in the meadow (one small patch remains now as a building goes up and road is cut in to the landscape), small creatures create homes designed of out many different substances. One is the spittle bug, also known as frog hoppers. The recollection of a childhood chum taking a stem to carefully reveal a small wedge-shaped insect inside the foam-y home is still vivid decades later. How could that be?

Spittle bug’s home on a stem of red clover in the meadow.

Here: “The froth serves a number of purposes. It hides the nymph from the view of predators and parasites, it insulates against heat and cold, thus providing thermal control and also moisture control; without the froth the insect would quickly dry up. The nymphs pierce plants and suck sap causing very little damage, much of the filtered fluids go into the production of the froth, which has an acrid taste, deterring predators. A few species are serious agricultural pests.” That’s filed under “Froghopper” on Wikipedia.

The tiny life with big eyes soon sproings away – the way it can launch into the air is the other reason for its name. Love this description from Backyard Nature: “The adults are often called froghoppers because their blunt heads have goggly eyes, and they are very powerful hoppers.”

Chris Brunson