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Spittle Bug



Common Names: Frog Hopper, Meadow Spittlebug, Spittle Bug


Scientific Name: Order Homoptera, family Cercopidae, Philaenus spumaris


Size: Adult—up to 1/2"


  Spittlebug (photo iNaturalist) left; spittlebug nymph (photo by David Cappaert -


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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