Carystoterpa fingens (Walker, 1851)

REDUCED NZ-Ento-Soc-Insect-Playing-Cards_spittlebug

Common name: New Zealand spittlebug

Order: Hemiptera     Family: Cercopidae

Size: 6-8mm long

As juveniles or “nymphs”, spittlebugs feed on fluids from their host plant which include rata and mānuka. While they eat, they squeeze their bodies tightly to blow bubbles into the liquid. This creates a foam which they cover themselves in to stay hidden from predators. If you see small clumps of foam on a plant, there’s probably a juvenile spittlebug inside.

When they mature, the spittlebugs live outside the foam and stop feeding altogether to instead focus on mating and laying eggs. They have no close relatives in New Zealand but are distantly related to leafhoppers and cicadas.


References:

Hamilton, K., Morales, C. F., & DSIR Plant Protection. (1992). Cercopidae (Insecta: Homoptera) (Fauna of New Zealand ; no. 25). Auckland, N.Z.: DSIR Plant Protection.