Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Lesson from the Berry Patch

Tom and I were picking strawberries the other afternoon when B stopped by on her way home from work. Being the well trained “farm-kid” that she is, she washed her hands and pitched in with the harvest. I kept hearing some grumbling from her end of the row. Finally, she exclaimed, “This is SO gross!” Not knowing exactly what “this” was, we waited for an explanation. “the spittle bugs….yuck!”

We had noticed a great deal of “spit” among the berries, but that is nothing unusual, and we kept picking. Seems she ended up in a very “spitty” patch. Tom began to tease that it was just bug “poo”, or maybe bug “pee”. This kind of thing was funny when the girls were little. This time he just got a big sigh and eye-roll, and a “you mean you don’t know what it is?”

No, we really didn’t know what it was. I figured it must be some type of egg case….Tom stuck with his “poo” theory, still hoping for a laugh. B looked at us with pity (poor ignorant old folks) and began to enlighten us.

B is a natural-born naturalist. She loves the outdoors and taught herself all sorts of useful information. She is able to identify a great number of creatures with ease. When she was younger, she made a journal of all the various species she had spotted here on the farm. It was most impressive.

Back to the spittle bugs… It seems that the nymphs (baby bugs) are in the spittle. It keeps them warm and moist so they can grow. Apparently, it tastes bad and protects from predation, too. They start out as little white wormy things and then develop into little green bugs. Humph, I didn’t know that!

Not one to take anything for granted, I checked it out for myself. Sure enough, inside the “spit” was a little worm.

I discovered that when the bubbles were bigger, there were little green bugs inside.

Can’t decide if this is very cool….or very gross. I’m going with cool. I love learning new stuff!

So, thanks, B! See, the old folks CAN learn new things!

The bugs don’t really hurt the plants, although they do suck some of the sap. We could spray and get rid of them, but since they don’t do anything but gross some of us out….we’ll leave them be and just remember to…


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