Spittlebug Nymphs from South Africa

Subject:  What in the world…
Geographic location of the bug:  Durban, South Africa
Date: 03/06/2019
Time: 10:58 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I was strolling through my garden when I came across these weird bugs. What are they and what are they doing? They are freaky, stuck together and bubbling!!
How you want your letter signed:  Ryan

Aggregation of unknown Hemipterans

Dear Ryan,
We have not had any luck matching your images to any images on line in our initial search, so we are posting your request as Unidentified.  We are quite certain these are members of the insect order Hemiptera, the group that includes True Bugs, Cicadas and Leafhoppers.  We will continue to research this matter and perhaps one of our readers will have some free time to investigate.

Update:  Cesar Crash from Insetologia found this Spittlebug posting in our archives that looks like the same species.  North American Spittlebugs do not tend to aggregate in such large numbers, though it is frequently possible to find several individuals hiding in the “spittle.”

Hemipteran Nymphs

Facebook Comment from Amy
Spittlebugs! (Ptyelus grossus?)

Subject:  What in the world….follow up
Geographic location of the bug:  Durban, South Africa
Date: 03/08/2019
Time: 02:40 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi again.
Thanks for trying to identify that mass of bugs:”Aggregation of unknown Hemipterans”. I have taken a few more pictures of whats left of them, so it might be clearer on what they are. Think they are some sort of leaf hopper.
How you want your letter signed:  Ryan


Hi Ryan,
Thanks for sending additional images that include the winged adult Spittlebug,
Ptyelus grossus.  According to the Flora of Zimbabwe:  “Larvae and nymphs of this species are highly gregarious. While feeding on the sap of certain tree species they excrete a foamy liquid that forms protective nests around them. Numbers of these nymphs can by so high in a single tree that the excessive excretions can drip onto the soil below the tree and may form wet patches or even small puddles.  Widespread in tropical and Southern Africa.

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