This garden pest is an interesting one, which really does not cause much damage but looks unsightly. How do you know if you have spittlebugs? Well, the answer is simple. You just look for small globs of white bubbles on the plant’s stem and leaves. If you are looking for an example of what you are looking for, think of your spit on the ground-hence the name spittlebugs.
The biology of this bug is unique in the fact that the little insect can be found inside the bubble. While we still do not know all the details of this little insect, we do know that they pierce the leaves or stem of the plant and suck juices from the plant as food. In just, they really do not cause noticeable damage in small numbers. On the other, large numbers feeding on a leaf can cause the leaf to be distorted and/or fruit.
Some of the favorite foods of this garden pest are fruit trees, grasses, and even some flowers such as Bachelor’s buttons.
If the number of “spit wads” is few, simply ignore the spittlebugs. On the other hand, if you have a lot, the best approach is to spray them off with a hard blast of water from a watering hose. But to prevent from causing another problem due to wet foliage, make sure to utilize this technique in the morning if possible.
Another approach to controlling spittlebugs is through prevention. In September through October, the spittlebug female lays her cluster of eggs in plant debris and leaves. The eggs hatch and the nymphs appear in late April to early May. These nymphs hide inside the bubbles of spit and feed on the plant material. The nymphs continue to feed for five to eight weeks. At that time, they have become adults and leave the plant nursery for grass and/or broadleaf plants. Toward the fall, the female returns to a plant to lay her eggs.
To break this cycle, keep your garden clean. If you suspect a spittlebug problem, do not compost your garden debris or leaves from your yard. Also, make sure that grass and broadleaf plants are kept away from fruit trees and other plants that you have seen spittlebug nymphs on. The reason for this technique is the fact that you are removing the food source of the adult and in doing so you will stop the cycle prior to egg laying.