Spittle Bugs – the Mystery Foam Source

LSUAC4C72-80px[1]

MasGarTM5x7_w85[1]

Spittle Bugs – the Mystery Foam Source

By George Giltner, Master Gardener

two lined spittle bug

Two lined Spittle bug (Prosapia bicincta), Clemson University Coop Extension Service photos

spittle

Spittle (bubbly froth mass with larvae), Clemson University Coop Extension Service photos

From the name, spittle, you know what to look for – a spit-looking mass on vegetation.  This frothy mass is excreted by yellow-brown nymphs mainly on grasses and ornamentals as defensive protection against predators and desiccation.  Below the froth, the nymphs insert piercing mouth parts into the plant consuming large amounts of plant juices.  They go through 4 instars before reaching adulthood.  Populations expand during wet humid climate periods and retract during drought.

In Louisiana, they can be found on grasses like St. Augustine, centipede, rye, Johnson, coastal Bermuda, and small grain crops.  Usually spittle bugs are not a problem, unless large populations develop under wet environmental conditions.  Pyrethroids can be used for control.  Also look for them in vines like honeysuckle and morning-glory and in ornamentals like holly, aster, and redbud where their feeding results in white blotches on the leaves.  They are most active in the morning to avoid the heat and drying conditions of hot afternoons.

The common two-lined spittle bug adults look like large black leafhoppers.  They are easily identified with two large red or orange stripes across their triangular-shaped body.  If you get close enough, notice the small red eyes.

The adults only live for three weeks, with females laying eggs during the last two weeks of their lives.  Eggs laid in the fall, overwinter in grass sheaths and ground debris.

The Pecan spittlebugs, Clastoptera achatina, are more of a problem insect, especially where pecans are grown.  The nymphs become active after bud break in the spring by feeding on young buds and later on tender shoots and nutlets.  Heavy populations can cause terminal bud death and immature nut shedding.  Infections can be recognized by white bubbly masses on terminal buds to dried yellowish masses on young nuts.  The adults are small, 4 to 5 mm, and yellowish brown in color.  Therefore they are hard to detect in pecan trees.

So the next time that you see those frothy masses on your plants, shrubs or trees, look for the larvae spittlebugs underneath.  At least you will know the source was not a rabid animal or from human origin.

Advertisements

4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Hi my friend! I want to say that this post is awesome, nice written and come with almost all significant infos.
    I would like to see extra posts like this .

  2. 3

    I’ve been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like
    yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all website
    owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be much more useful than ever before.

  3. 4

    Iliana said,

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d most certainly donate to this superb blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to fresh updates and will talk about this website with my Facebook group. Chat soon!|


Comment RSS · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: