The froghoppers, or the superfamily Cercopoidea, are a group of Hemipteran insects, in the suborder Auchenorrhyncha. Traditionally, most of this superfamily was considered a single family, Cercopidae, but this family has been split into three separate families for many years now: the Aphrophoridae, Cercopidae, and Clastopteridae. More recently, the family Epipygidae has been removed from the Aphrophoridae. These families are best known for the nymph stage, which produces a cover of frothed-up plant sap resembling spit; the nymphs are therefore commonly known as spittlebugs, or spit bugs, and their froth as cuckoo spit, frog spit or snake spit. The final family in the group, Machaerotidae, is known as the tube spittlebugs because the nymphs live in calcareous tubes, rather than producing froth as in the other families.
A sap-sucking bug that coats plants with wads of foamy spit has been crowned the insect world's greatest leaper. It has more jumping prowess than fleas, out hops the springiest grasshoppers, and clears the high bar more quickly than bush crickets. Philaenus spumarius, commonly known as a froghopper or spittle bug, is a mere 0.2 inches (6 millimeters) long, but employs a novel catapult mechanism to launch itself upwards of 28 inches (70 centimeters) into the air.
The froghopper is an insect, and a member of the order Homoptera. As such it is related to both cicadas and aphids. The Common Froghopper (Philaenus spumarius) is the most widespread example in the UK, although related species are found worldwide. Typically the adult froghopper is between 4mm and 7mm long. They are called froghoppers because from above they appear frog-like, and they are able to hop significant distances when disturbed.
In nature, the habitats froghoppers are most often found in are woodland edges and grassland. However, they are also a pest known particularly to fruit-growers. They feed on plant sap which they extract from the leaves and stems of plants. This causes minor damage in itself, but the insects carry viruses which can cause serious harm to crops. The eggs are laid on a variety of plants including nettles and grasses as well as the tender young shoots of willow, cherry and apple. In gardens they are frequently encountered on such plants as chrysanthemum, dahlia, fuchsia, lavender, rosemary and rose.