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The Monroe County Reporter
Forsyth, Georgia
May 15, 2019     The Monroe County Reporter
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May 15, 2019

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Page 2B May 2019 RepOrter MONROE OUTDOORS by Terry W. Johnson O O I don't know about you, but in my case, as I mature, I come across things that transport me back in time. Recently my spotting a spittlebug lair, of all things, prompted my most recent trip down memory la e, Spittlebugs will never accused of be- ing among the most attractive of Mother Na- ture's creations. Adult spittle- bugs are called TERRY W. froghoppers. These insects are so named for their amazing ability to hop. Entomologists tell us froghoppers are capable of leaping 100 times their body length. I'm not sure Wonder Woman can jump that far. On the other hand, their nymphs are named spittle- bugs aiad cannot jump. Instead they spend their lives hanging out in what appears to be a glob of saliva hanging off grass or other vegetation. As such, it is not surprising their frothy homes are called snake spit, cuckoo spit, and even frog spit. Back in the days of my youth, kids were not dis- tracted by television, video games, or smart phones. Consequently we spent our spare time outside pursu- ing worthwhile activities like fishing, playing base- ball, football or basketball or sim- ply just roaming the fields, woods or waters near our homes. During our treks afield, we dis- covered all sorts of critters. No animal was too JOHNSON small to escape our sharp eyes. One of these critters was the spittlebug. I can still remember when I saw my first spittle- bug home. I had no idea what it was. In fact, I did not even realize it har- bored an insect. However, boys being boys, one of the guys picked up a small stick and began probing the foamy glob. Much to our surprise, he uncovered an odd-looking greenish- yellow spittlebug nymph. That prompted us to check other masses of tiny bubbles. Our investigations revealed each contained a small, seemingly helpless insect. Soon the sticks were discarded and we were digging through the bubbly masses with our fingers. The foamy home of the spittlebug serves many purposes. Obviously it hides the insect from birds and other predators. It also serves as a very effective barrier against fluctuations in temperature and mois- ture. In addition, since the spittle is bitter to the taste, biologists believe it might also help repel predators that try to pluck spittlebugs out of their unusual homes. Recently researchers dis- covered that the foam also aids in the insects breath- ing. Normally spittlebugs breathe by projecting a snorkel-like structure up- wards through the surface of the white, frothy mass surrounding it. Research- ers now know spittlebugs are able to extract oxygen by piercing the bubbles in the foam' This form of breathingis only used in extreme situations. Each spittlebug manu- factures its own foam. Although its name suggests it is composed of saliva, nothing could be further from the truth. The foamy mass is actually com- prised of the insect's urine combined with air emitted Inside these foamy bubbles is an odd-looking greenish-yellow spittlebug nymph that will grow up to be a froghopper. (Photo/Terry Johnson) from its abdomen, whichvoiding 2,700 gallons of my finger. Then again, at the nymph combines with urine each day. that tender age I might a sticky chemical that helps It would seem a spittle- have done it anyway. it adhere to plants, bug would inflict a lot of The urine is produced damage to the plant onTerry Johnson is retired from digesting the sap which it is feasting. In Program Manager of the the spittlebug sucks out truth, spittlebugs rarely Georgia Nongame-Endan- of plants The amount of damage their plant hosts, gered Wildlife Program. He urine Passed by a spittle- In retrospect, I wish I has written the informative bug is enormous. Remark- had known as much about column "Monroe Outdoors' ably, this fluid amounts to spittlebugs when I wasfor the Reporter for many upwards of 280 times its younger and less wiseryears. His book, "A Journey own body weight. To put than I am now. If I did, I to Discovery," is available at this in perspective, it is definitely would not have The Reporter. Email him at the equivalent of a human probed cuckoo spit with High Falls State Park will host its second annual tri- athlon beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 18. The event is sponsored by Friends of High Falls State Park and will include a three-mile trail run, a 14- mile bike ride, and a half- mile paddle on the lake. Persons wishing to participate can sign up at The price to compete is $50 plus an additional $15 for a kayak, if needed. Participants are encouraged to bring their own kayak, paddleboard or canoe because the park has a limited number of kayaks available. All participants will receive a t-shirt and a medal. Prizes will be given to the top three males and females in each 10-year age group. Only 100 total en- tries are available, and sign- ups will end at midnight on Sunda ; May 12. For more information, contact D.e Reed at (770) 441-1683 or jpreed57@ ogs selec e winners Mary Persons honored its boys soccer squads with an annual awards banquet at Forsyth Methodist Church on May 6. Above: individual award recipients included from left to right: Julian Rivera -- Golden Boot Award (most goals), Tripp Shipman -- Most Improved Player Award, Garrison Walker -- Defensive MVP Award, Braydon Martin -- Offensive MVP Award, William Atkins -- Team MVP Award, Mason Baker, Tanner Lee -- Taylor Dell Award. Not pictured: Calvin Brown -- JV MVP Award. Below: Academic Award recipients were from left to right: Tripp Shipman (freshman), Garrison Walker (sophomore), Bryce Lynch (junior), and Tanner Lee (senior). . ~'ql O ~,