Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A new take on spittlebug froth

with 45 comments

On April 5th at the Riata Trace Pond I noticed various plants with spittlebug froth on them,
including this pink evening primrose, Oenothera speciosa.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 25, 2020 at 4:59 PM

45 Responses

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  1. That is an artistic view of spittlebug froth, Steve! Beautiful photo.

    Lavinia Ross

    April 25, 2020 at 5:44 PM

    • It’s the artsiest take on spittlebug froth I’ve ever made, thanks to the amorphous flower in the background.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 25, 2020 at 7:33 PM

  2. It’s probably (and seriously) the most attractive spittlebug froth I’ve seen, a nice cluster of shiny bubbles.

    Robert Parker

    April 25, 2020 at 6:30 PM

    • I, too, find these masses of bubbles attractive. I’ve often enough photographed them but this time was different, more abstract, and with appealing colors beyond.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 25, 2020 at 7:39 PM

  3. Thank you! I wondered what this was on some plants I see on my walk.

    Margie McCreless Roe

    April 25, 2020 at 6:52 PM

    • In the past month I’ve noticed a lot of it around. The insect creates this froth to conceal itself.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 25, 2020 at 7:40 PM

  4. The spittlebug is quite common here in BC too. If you remove the foam, you find the bug inside what’s left.

    Peter Klopp

    April 25, 2020 at 6:58 PM

    • It’s good to hear you see these up there, too. A few times I’ve seen the insect that creates the bubbles.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 25, 2020 at 7:41 PM

  5. Stunning

    sedge808

    April 25, 2020 at 8:46 PM

  6. The bubbles are especially appropriate just now–and that wonderful pink flower behind them really (albeit figuratively) makes them pop!

    krikitarts

    April 26, 2020 at 1:45 AM

    • What do you mean by “The bubbles are especially appropriate just now”?
      Colors that pop make an image popular.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 26, 2020 at 6:42 AM

      • I’d bet he means that we’re all being advised to live in our individual bubbles — like the Bubble Boy, but writ large.

        shoreacres

        April 26, 2020 at 7:20 AM

        • I’d thought about “living in a bubble” but wasn’t sure if that’s what Gary meant. Your reference to “Buble Boy” is especially appropriate.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 26, 2020 at 8:04 AM

          • Linda’s right on the money. You have ready access to all these wonderful places (bless your luck!), but those of us who live in urban settings are required to stay in our “bubbles” and go outside them only for absolutely essential travel or for a bit of exercise in the immediate neighborhood. Happily, things are about to loosen up a bit here, as we go from Level 4 down to 3 at midnight tonight, but it’s still a far cry from normal activities. For the past five weeks, we have not even been allowed to hug our daughters or their children.

            krikitarts

            April 27, 2020 at 12:20 AM

            • Austin counts about a million people within the city limits now, which certainly qualifies as urban. As you’ve noticed, virus-induced restrictions are less stringent in the United States than in New Zealand. I’ve been out photographing in nature 11 times so far in April. Yesterday was a beautiful spring Sunday, and I saw plenty of people walking, jogging, and riding bikes. I don’t see any harm to outdoor activities like those as long as people keep their distance from one another. (Young people don’t pay enough attention to that.) I’d heard that the restrictions in NZ were about to loosen up a smidgen—but only a smidgen. Enjoy the extra ounce of freedom.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 27, 2020 at 6:51 AM

              • The only real change that the drop to Level 3 gives us is that we can now begin to merge our 3 family bubbles somewhat and hug the grandkids for the first time in almost a month and a half. And that IS a great improvement!

                krikitarts

                April 28, 2020 at 4:30 PM

  7. Looks like a special effect. Looks spectacular.

    Michael Scandling

    April 26, 2020 at 2:15 AM

  8. I don’t remember seeing such a pronounced bubbles-within-bubbles effect before; it’s especially interesting. On the left side of the stem, do you think that dark area is what’s living inside? Or damage to the stem. At first I thought it might be your shadow or reflection, but decided against that.

    shoreacres

    April 26, 2020 at 7:23 AM

    • It may well be the insect, which I think has a somewhat conical rear end, the better to blow bubbles.
      You’re right that the bubbles this time were especially well articulated.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 26, 2020 at 8:06 AM

  9. This is a very satisfying image of a spittlebug and his bubbles. I love the composition and the colors.

    melissabluefineart

    April 26, 2020 at 8:18 AM

  10. What a great image! Yesterday Forrest and I were out checking game cameras and I noticed the spittlebug froth was back. I notice it mostly on the taller grasses, and can be found in both full sun and partial sun. I agree with Peter that the darkness is the bug inside. Very rarely do we see the little black bug responsible for the froth.

    Littlesundog

    April 26, 2020 at 8:31 AM

    • I was very happy with the image, especially because of the colors from the pink evening primrose. Although I’ve rarely seen the insect that makes the froth, this was one of those times. Now it’s three weeks later and I’m still seeing lots of spittlebug froth, as are you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 26, 2020 at 1:03 PM

  11. What is the purpose of this froth?

    Kate Garrison

    April 26, 2020 at 3:07 PM

  12. You’ve made spittlebug froth beautiful, Steve. Nice work.

    oneowner

    April 26, 2020 at 4:22 PM

    • Thanks. I felt like I accomplished something with this picture, which is unlike any other spittlebug froth photo I’ve seen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 26, 2020 at 4:40 PM

  13. Spittlebugs never looked so good! I think they would be pleased.

    bluebrightly

    April 26, 2020 at 5:57 PM

  14. Lovely collection of spit. Similar to one I found a few years ago and the maker’s there as well which you saw in 2014. Interesting that theirs looks so much more artistic than ours.

    Steve Gingold

    April 27, 2020 at 10:06 AM

    • I remember that spittle goblet from 2014. Austin’s been undergoing a lot of spittlebug activity these days. I photographed some more yesterday.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 27, 2020 at 4:07 PM

      • Once I find them they seem to be everywhere in a meadow. Either there is a boom in spittlebug procreation or there is one very busy spitter.

        Steve Gingold

        April 28, 2020 at 2:21 AM

  15. I’ve seen this before but never knew the cause. Fascinating it’s an insect blowing bubbles like some of us in a bath. 🙂

    Todd Henson

    April 29, 2020 at 7:01 AM

    • You’re at least the second reader who’d seen these little bubbles in nature but didn’t know what they were. One more mystery solved.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 29, 2020 at 7:06 AM

  16. Amazing shot of spittle bug froth!

    Julie@frogpondfarm

    May 1, 2020 at 2:40 PM

  17. WOW! Who would have thought it could be so pretty!

    denisebushphoto

    May 2, 2020 at 12:35 PM

    • I’ve long been fascinated by the forms of spittlebug bubbles and have taken plenty of photographs over the years. This time the color in the background was an enhancement that took my pictures someplace new.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 2, 2020 at 2:21 PM


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