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.

  Search Library Topics      Search Newspaper Columns