Spittle Bugs

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Adult and juvenile spittle bugs

Adult and juvenile spittle bugs on a casuarina

Spittle bugs are interesting insects that produce a white frothy substance on stems and leaves which looks just like spittle.  Hidden underneath that froth is the juvenile busily sucking out sap from the plant.  The froth serves to protect the juvenile from adverse weather conditions and predator attack.

Adult spittle bugs are about 1cm long and don’t produce the froth. They are called froghoppers and are incredibly strong jumpers which helps them avoid predation.

Even though spittle bugs suck sap from plants they rarely cause any damage and aren’t regarded as problem pests.  Usually they only occur in small numbers so again plants are not significantly impacted.

Plants Attacked by Spittle Bugs
Spittle bugs can be found on a broad range of garden plants but are more commonly seen on natives including wattles, gum trees and casuarinas.

How to Control Spittle Bugs Organically
If a large number appear on a plant or you just don’t like the look of the spittle then you can:

  • use the hose to wash the froth and spittle bugs off, or
  • prune off the affected stems and leaves which will take the spittle bugs away as well.
Spittle bug on wattle

Spittle bugs on a wattle

Spittle bug on gum tree

Spittle bugs on a gum tree