Do you have what looks like gobs of loogies all over your plants? Me too! Fortunately these are not giant gobs of spit from the neighborhood kids – at least not the neighborhood human children! These goopy globs are actually a bubbly mass produced by the aptly named ‘spittlebug’.
Spittlebugs are little hopping insects in the superfamily Cercopoidea, which is part of the ‘true bug’ order, Hemiptera. It’s the juveniles, or nymphs (aka ’teenagers’), of the spittle bug that produce the white blobs of gunk on your plants. The nymph produces this foam, or spittle, as it is sucking the sap from the plant. The spittle then serves as a protective cover for the nymph shielding it from predators and regulating its temperature and humidity (insects do not have thermoregulation like us mammals).
The adults are often called ‘froghoppers’ and some of them are quite lovely with bright colors like the image below (image courtesy of Wikipedia). I don’t think the ones in my yard are as pretty as the image on Wikipedia, unfortunately. The adults I’ve been able to find are all light brown colored… I’ll keep my eyes peeled for other adults and post an update if I find more colorful ones :)
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