Spittlebug Larvae Protect Themselves in Foam


Spittlebug larvae dissolve their own secreted organic matter into the liquid they excrete, which creates a soap. The larvae blow a bubble of air from the spiracle on their stomach, and then make a nest out of the clump of the highly viscous bubbles. The organic matter that the larvae secrete foams well and also creates tough bubbles that are hard to break, making their foam nest secure. Even if the nest is battered by wind and rain, it will not blow away, and nor will it dry up in a drought. The air inside the bubbles functions as insulation, so that the larvae can protect themselves in the nest from changes in the outside air. Further, if ants or others try to invade the foam nest, they suffocate and drown in the soapy solution.

Functional Classification

Resouce/Energy/Information Collection & Storage:
Heat insulation
Resistance to outside threatsWind resistanceCold resistanceHeat resistanceMicrobe/germ resistanceInsulation

Environmental Solution Classification

Related Literature

Ishida H, Sensho D. Cool Technology that Learns from Nature: Why Don’t Snails Get Dirty? Shizen ni manabu suina tekunoroji: Naze katatsumuri wa yogorenai no ka.

Technical Application

Larvae’ nest-building techniques have been applied to the development of energy-saving baths that use little water

Products and Services

Type of Business

Proposals of Applied Technology

These techniques can be used to develop an effective mechanism for bathing in a wheelchair. It can also be used to develop bathing technologies that do not require water pressure.

Proposals of Applied Industry

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