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Spittlebug Natural Insect Pest Control

Spittlebug
Foam surrounding a spittlebug
Foam surrounding a spittlebug

Spittlebugs are the nymphs of insects called froghoppers.

Adult froghoppers are small oval- to triangular-shaped insects ¼ to ½ inch in length. The adults can be green, tan, brown, or black. They can jump as much as 100 times their height, giving them the name froghoppers. They can also fly. Many species of froghopper resemble leafhoppers.

Nymphs are yellow to yellowish-green and look much like the adults but are wingless. Nymphs are immobile early in life. They suck sap from plants to grow into adults and surround themselves in a protective mass of foam or “spittle.” The feeding of spittlebug nymphs causes little damage to plants.

In spring the spittlebug nymphs hatch from overwintered eggs and begin feeding. The nymphs reach maturity in two to six weeks. Adults feed over the summer and lay eggs in the fall. Eggs are white to beige laid in rows between the leaves and main stems of plants.

There is commonly one generation of spittlebugs each year.

Spittlebugs are found throughout North America.

Target Plants: Froghoppers and spittlebugs feed on corn, herbs, and some vegetables and fruits.  They also feed on annual and perennial flowering plants.

Feeding Habits and Damage: Nymphs and adults suck plant sap but they do little if any damage.

Organic Controls: The foam that surrounds feeding spittlebugs may be unsightly but it requires no control. Wash nymphs and adults off plants with a strong stream of water from the garden hose.

Scientific Name: Superfamily Cercopoidea

 

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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