My book has some strange things in it – the kind of yucky, weird things that children find absolutely fascinating. The odd and wonderful way nature works, just outside our front doors, brings my family endless entertainment, giggles and fun.
Just yesterday, I heard someone complaining that the local teenagers kept spitting on her rose bush as they walked by to catch the bus. That really would be on a par with dog fouling, but when I investigated a little, it became clear that it wasn’t actually human grog (sorry, that word came to me from my teenage years), but something altogether more interesting. It was the frothy foam that surrounds the froghopper nymph, which really does look exactly like spit!
If you gently probe the froth, you will find the tiny, bright green young froghopper looking a bit disgruntled at being disturbed (well, I think it must be disgruntled but it is very hard to see its little face). It surrounds itself in the foam as protection against predators. It is known as ‘cuckoo spit’ because it is seen around the time (now) that the cuckoos are calling – not that many of us hear them these days, but that’s a whole other story.
I was keen to feature the froghopper in my book, but how to capture its weirdness? Luckily, the book’s very clever illustrator Stephanie Laurence was able to help. Here is the froghopper in all his weird glory, thanks to Stephanie
P.S. My photo of the illustration is a bit dark but you get the idea.