Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Frogs and Cows

Despite the title, our short walk this morning didn't involve any amphibians or cattle.  We walked around the edge of the industrial estate close to our home, on our way to the lakes, affectionately referred to as 'Bogwashes'.  The 'cows' were in the form of Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris).  Growing tall and thickly around the grasslands in these parts, it is a very common and well known member of Britain's Spring flora.
A closer look at the flower heads, reveals a flat-topped 'Umbel' of small, white flowers with rather unequal petals.  The petals on the outer edge are much larger than the other four.
In the grass, we found a few small insects with a name alluded to in the first part of today's title.  Looking rather like a ladybird, these are actually Black and Red Froghoppers (Cercopis vulnerata).
Froghoppers are well known in our gardens, as their nymphs feed on the stems of plants, whipping the sap into a froth called 'cuckoo spit', in which they hide.  This particular species however, has nymphs which feed on roots of plants and so are almost never seen.  The rather striking adults - among the largest of the Froghopper species - are found all over Britain.
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