Isn’t spittlebug a great name?
Spittlebugs (Philaenus spumarius) are easy to spot when in their immature phase because the nymphs surround themselves with a white froth when they feed, hence the name. In each foamy bit, there may be several spittlebug nymphs feeding on sap found in the plant’s xylem.
Adult spittlebugs are only 1/4” long, unremarkable and rarely seen. And, no, they won’t hawk a loogy at you in the garden. For the most part, adults look like leafhoppers and will hop away when disturbed, sometimes with an audible "thump" sound.
Damage caused by spittlebugs
Spittlebugs seem to prefer woody plants, such as rosemary and lavender. These pests are most commonly seen in spring. There is generally only one generation each year. While spittlebugs do suck the juices out of your plants, they rarely do any serious damage. Heavy infestations can cause some distortions and stunting.
If you see splotches of white foam on your plants, simply wash them off the plant with a garden hose. This interrupts the spittlebug lifecycle and protects your plants.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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