TX Organic Research Center



Spittle Bug


Common Names: Frog Hopper, Meadow Spittlebug, Spittle Bug

Scientific Name: Order Homoptera, family Cercopidae, Philaenus spumaris

Size: Adult--up to 1/2"

Identification: Adults are oval, frog-faced, tan, brown, or black; similar to leafhoppers but fatter. They have sharp spines on the hind legs and jump when disturbed. Nymphs are similar to adults but wingless; they protect themselves inside a foamy mass of "spittle." Eggs are white.

Biology and Life Cycle: Incomplete metamorphosis. Overwinter in the egg stage, hatch in spring; nymphs develop for six to seven weeks in spittle masses on plants. Adults feed for the rest of the summer and start to lay eggs in early fall.

Habitat: Alfalfa, clover, strawberry, grass, pecan, and other ornamental plants.

Feeding Habits: Adults and nymphs suck plant juices but are rarely a serious problem.

Natural Control: No important predators have been discovered.

Organic Control: Rarely needed. Can be washed off with a strong blast of water.

Insight: Spittlebugs can be found on almost any plant. Heavy infestations distort plant tissue and can slow plant growth. More damaging to herbaceous plants than woody plants.

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