My children were all excited thinking that there were new cocoons in our front garden, hoping to see the life cycle of a butterfly, but came the morning light they discovered that they were more like frothy bubbles on the rosemary bush stem. Frothy like frog spit, but there are no frogs in our garden at the moment. So running back inside they grabbed me to help identify what it could be.
The answer is the Spittlebug or Spittle Bug, also known as the Froghopper.
What are they?
Spittle Bugs are a relative of the aphid family.
Both adult and nymphs are sap sucking insects.
When they become adults they will grow wings and look like a leafhopper.
There are over 23,00 different Spittle Bugs varieties!
Eggs are laid during summer or spring. Hatching occurs in the following spring.
They are commonly found in junipers, pine trees, eucalpyts and rosemary plants, but not exclusively.
What do they do on the plants?
Spittle Bug nymphs attach themselves to plants by their mouthparts. Once attached they feed on the plant sap. Its their consumption of the sap, water and carbohydrates, that help them produce the formation of the their spittle or frothiness.
Why do they create the frothiness?
They create the froth on the plant stem for three main reasons:
- To protect them against predators.
- To prevent water loss and functions as a thermal controller.
- It insulates them from temperature extremes.
Do they cause damage?
Severe Spittle Bugs attacks can cause stunted growth of a plant, however these bugs are not considered as serious pests. Often associated with black sooty mould on tree branches. They prefer the young shoots to adhere to.
If you are at all worried about these bugs on your plants, simply blast them with the spray of the hose to detach them to encourage them on their way. No need for chemical sprays.
If spraying is required for severe infestations, use maldison.
They are often well controlled by predators, such as small birds, spiders, assassin bugs, ladybirds/ladybugs, and lacewigs. Eggs, nymphs and adults are often parasitised by flies and small wasps.