Bitter-pea mysteries

by Patrick Kavanagh

The Gorse Bitter-pea in our front yard is heavy with flower and insect traffic. Whilst trying to snare some photographs, I noticed this small patch of froth on a stem. Very close to it and seemingly not interested in the froth was this tiny insect (3mm long perhaps) going over the flowers. When I saw the photo of the froth on my computer, I noticed what appears to be an end of a larval insect sticking out the top. What is the insect? What is the froth and the creature encased in it and is it related to the small wasp-like insect nearby?

mystery on bitter pea

Gorse Bitter-pea with frothy mass.

wasp stack 2z crop

Who am I?


5 responses to “Bitter-pea mysteries

  1. The froth is produced by the “Spittlebug” or “Frog Hopper” within it (Order: Hemiptera, Super Family: Cercopoidea), The froth is also known as cuckoo spit. Your photo shows the tail end of the larval form of the Spittlebug/Frog Hopper. The froth would protect the insect from predators.
    The froth is not related to the wasp-like insect.

  2. Thanks David, that’s very helpful!

  3. Only yesterday, spotted a hardened froth under the deck hand rail.The froth hardens like polystyrene; dissected it to find some tiny round ‘eggs’ do not know of what.
    Kersi Rustomji

  4. Wasp-like but only in appearance. It’s a Clerid beetle – Blackburniella intricata – which mimics a velvet ant. Here are a couple of links. The second one includes the little velvet ant it mimics. I’ve often seen similarly coloured ones on the ground at Strangways.
    Blackburniella intricata
    Clerid Beetle disguised as a velvet ant

  5. Thanks Kate!

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