What the heck is that? Spittlebugs!

“Do not spit in the well – you may be thirsty by and by.” – Russian proverb

This proverb encourages us to think before we act – useful advice inside and outside of the garden!

However, it looks like someone missed the well and expectorated on some of my garden plants – yuck!

Spittlebug on feverfew

Actually, these globs are made by spittlebug nymphs (superfamily Cercopoidea), which, as adults, are sometimes called froghoppers because they can jump from plant to plant at great heights and distances. Adults lay their eggs on leaves; after overwintering, the eggs hatch in early spring.

Most gardeners areĀ  familiar with these insects as nymphs because it is at this stage of development that they attach to a plant stem, excrete a frothy, spit-like substance from their rear end, and then encase themselves so they can grow up in peace. The “spit” protects the insects from predators and from drying out on hot days.

Spittlebug nymph

Within their private little bubble, spittlebugs feed by sucking sap from their host plant. Although damage to plants is minimal in most cases, a large spittlebug infestation can weaken plants. Spray spittlebugs off plants with a stream of water from the hose, or spray the plants with an organic repellent that is also useful for deterring crickets: Mix one blended garlic bulb, one teaspoon of red pepper powder and one tablespoon of liquid soap with one quart of water.

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  • About the Author

    Rhonda Nowak

    Rhonda Nowak is a Rogue Valley gardener, writer and teacher. With more than 25 years of gardening experience and a Ph.D. in literature and language arts education, she combines a love for plants, poetry, and prose in her Literary Gardener blog. ... Full Profile
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