21 June 2013

Record breaking jumping and surprised squirrels!

With the good weather we've had recently we've been noticing 'cuckoo spit' starting to appear on many of the plants around the Basecamp grounds. I remember seeing this when growing up and always wondering what caused it, but never finding anyone who knew (although I probably didn't try that hard if I'm honest!).

Today though, with the wonders of the internet and knowledgeable National Trust staff I know it to be produced by the intriguingly named 'Frog Hoppers', or rather their nymph stage. These young insects suck the sap of the plants they are on and exude the froth to both stop themselves from drying out and to protect them from predators, such as ants. Where do they exude it from? Let's just say it's not their mouths ....

He's in there somewhere ....
They don't really do much damage as they're so small and when adults they move freely from plant to plant, by jumping. It's this that makes them the record breakers - they are the animal kingdoms champion jumpers. They can jump up to 70cm, which when you're only around 6mm long is a fair distance. Even more impressive is that while a flea can do a similar jump the froghopper is around 60 times heavier, which gives a force per body weight comparison: A froghopper will manage around 400 times it's body weight, a flea about 135 times and a human being a measly 2 or 3.

The g-force generated by this is around 400, compared to about 5 for a human astronaut going into space - that'd make your head spin ....

Enough about tiny insects. They're interesting, but they're not cute. Our red squirrels, which we mentioned in a recent post, certainly are though. We recently managed to capture this short video of one making off with one of the monkey nuts from our feeder and being surprised by our camera. You can see it here:

If you can't see the video here then click the link below to go see it onYou Tube.


By Rob Clarke, Community Ranger