Controlling Garden Pests Naturally and Organically

Spit Bugs

Spit bugs (spittle bugs) measure around 12mm long. Spit bug nymphs are smaller and produce a frothy white ‘spit’ to enclose themselves in.

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Adult Spit Bug-Auburn University (left), Adult diagram-photo D.E. Short (right)

 

Description
Adult spit bugs are shaped like small frogs and can hop hence being dubbed froghoppers. They are usually brown in colour but can be green in many parts of Canada. Their eggs are small and white and laid in rows.

Spit Bug Habitat
They are most prevalent in grassy fields found all over North America. They prefer grassy areas but will attack most plants.

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Nymph-Michigan State University (left), Green Nymph-Auburn University (right)

Lifecycle
Spit bugs overwinter as eggs in stems and garden debris. The eggs need high humidity to hatch so they will hatch quite early in the south. The nymphs climb up the stems and cover themselves with a protective spit. Female spit bugs lay their eggs again in the summer and the cycle begins again.

Diet and Damage
Spit bugs feed on mostly on grass but many ornamentals, flowers, peas, strawberries, alfalfa, shrubs and trees can be affected. Grass turns brown and dies. Plants become deformed. They appear in mass numbers in June and through to September. Adults can cause just as much damage as the nymphs. Adult spit bugs feed mostly in the early mornings and hide in the heat of the day.

Controlling spit bugs:

  1. Use Liquid Rotenone/Pyrethrinor   Pyola™ Insect Spray
    Insecticidal Soap Spray also works rather well on spit bug nymphs. Destroy them before they become adults! Be careful with Pyola™… although it is a natural organic pesticide derived from chrysanthemum flowers, it is what is known as a “broad spectrum” pesticide and will also kill beneficial insects as well. It simultaneously attacks adult insects, larvae and eggs and can be used as a dormant or growing season spray.
  2. Water Spray
    A strong spay of water on shrubs and ornamentals will control spit bugs as they don’t inflict much damage on mature plants.
  3. Hand Pick (wear gloves)
    Where you see a mass of spittle you know there is a bug. Remove the bugs and drop them in alcohol.
  4. Dethatch Your Lawn
    In the spring dethatch and fertilize your lawn. This should keep your spit bug population down to a minimum as they need moist humid conditions to survive.
  5. Dormant Oil Spray
    Apply the spray in the fall… and this will prevent any overwintering spit bug eggs from hatching.

31 Responses to “Spit Bugs”

  1. 1
    Ms Cummings Says:

    My second grade class was so excited to learn about spit bugs. We are observing their lifecyle right now in our classroom!!!!!

  2. 2
    Anna Says:

    I just discovered this year that these little critter ought to be removed from things. So I spent half of yesterday (seems like, anyway) smooshing them off my rosemary plant. They kept shooting out from between my fingers. Icky.

  3. 3
    Lake Says:

    I’m in 4th grade and i’m doing a report on spit bugs right now!!

  4. 4
    Will Says:

    Hey do you know the scientific name for the spit bug
    please reply
    thanks

  5. 5
    trissy Says:

    will spit bugs kill plants

  6. 6
    Margie Says:

    My dad gave my mom floweers and on it was a spit bug. I guess she got a little extra something. It was really interesting to read about these gross bugs.

  7. 7
    Joey Says:

    I wonder how they make their spit.

  8. 8
    morgan Says:

    I caught 10 spit bugs i am glad i did!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. 9
    Melissa Says:

    Can spit bugs cause horses sylvia glands to “drool” consistantly? I have 2 horses that have been “drooling” very badly and I called the Vet out to see what he thinks. The Vet wasn’t really quite sure what the problem is but our feild has nice grass except I see “Spit bugs” and I was wondering if “spit bugs” is a cause to the consistant drool.

  10. 10
    clea Says:

    it was helpfull for my ugly bug ball costume.

  11. 11
    Ally Simmer Says:

    are spit bug in bellingham washington and can they live in rooms like bed rooms??
    htnaks

  12. 12
    Alana Says:

    HI,
    my name is alana. I live in santa cruz C.A. I found some white/clear eggs in my front yard. they are about 1/4 of an inch can you help me find out what it is?

    Alana,(Bug)

  13. 13
    Cahri Says:

    Alana
    I think these might be ladybug eggs, without a picture I cannot be sure
    Regards
    Cahri

  14. 14
    Colleen Phillips Says:

    Hello,
    I was looking for information on Garden Creatures. I am the principal of a Pre-Primary School, and we want to start an outdoor club to teach the children about the local fauna and flora. If you have any information on bugs and creatures the children are likely to find in the garden, along with their habitat, interesting facts, and what preys on them, etc. it will be very welcome. I am prepared to subscribe to an online magazine to gain information. Our area is Kwazulu Natal; Kloof which is about 15Km from Durban inland.
    Thanks.

  15. 15
    Jen Says:

    While weeding at my NC home, I found a lot of spit bugs far down on the plants I was pulling. I’ve seen spit bugs before, usually green in color. However, these spit bugs were tiny, round, bright red & black bugs. Any idea what these were and if they are harmful to my garden? Thanks, Jen

  16. 16
    Xyka Says:

    me and a few friends have been trying to keep spit bugs,

    ~we know that they are in balls of spit attached to grass

    ~we know that they need to stay in the spit

    ~we have a fair sized fish tank ready to put them in

    ~we have dirt and stalks of grass to put into the fish tank

    the only problem is, we dont know if were supposed to give them food, and if so, what to feed them

  17. 17
    Cahri Says:

    The grass needs to be growing, not dead. Good luck
    Regards
    Cahri

  18. 18
    BARBARA Says:

    is the spit harmful

  19. 19
    Perri Says:

    This may be slafermane not sure if I spelled it correctly, I had this problem with my horses. Take them off of pasture and stall and feed them horse feed, hay and water for about 2 weeks , It is a spore or fungus that grows during the rainy season and the dew. Seems to be seasonal. Look it up on the net. Our horses were spewing,drooling,and regurgitating excessive liquid about a quart. Taking them off of pasture recomended by vet. worked. Just watch for it again when you turn them back out. If it starts again stall or pen them back up. No signs of it this year , hope it gone .

  20. 20
    KarleyRose Says:

    I have these really great perennials that have been generously coming back for many years now however this year my yard appears to have met them with these awful disgusting spit bugs. What can do to rid these really delicate flowers of their rude and uninvited guests?

    Also, could really long grass, in a part of the yard closest to the barrel where they are planted have attracted these bugs?

    Thank you to whoever responds to me with helpful answer

    pppppppp[

  21. 21
    Pie Says:

    I was outside playing with a firefly and a saw a HUGE daisy and so i ruched out to grab it and spit bug eggs come all over me and I am wondering if the spit can hurt you,a person,not a horse or any animal.

  22. 22
    Casey Says:

    I live in Leeds in England and I’ve just been outside my house and I saw a few sticky buds with balls of spit on, I removed the spit and a little green bug popped out and started walking down the sticky bud, is it a spit bug and will it harm me in anyway?

  23. 23
    diane Says:

    I have the bugs all over my pine trees in northern MI…what next? Will these bugs kill the trees? They are way up high and all over about 6 trees over 40 ft tall.

  24. 24
    Molly Says:

    We were taking a walk and found spit on a tree trunk. It is late January. We are wondering if it was spit bugs.

  25. 25
    Molly Says:

    We were taking a walk and found spit on a tree trunk. It is late January in Baltimore MDand has been very cold. We are wondering if it was spit bugs.

  26. 26
    maitlynn Says:

    how come they live in spit

  27. 27
    baker Says:

    i have one of those spit balls on some lavnder plant
    i no i should get it off how do i do that cuz its gross
    and is any one havin trouble with some twisted willow trees
    part of the tree is dieing live in WA state

  28. 28
    Dejra Says:

    To Baker, I spray them off but I suppose they don’t die but go to a different plant. I live in ne WA. May have to resort to some oil spray in the winter for next year.

  29. 29
    Deborah Says:

    can diatanaceous earth be used to dry exoskeleton of the frog hoppers aka spittle bugs?

  30. 30
    Wardogzzz Says:

    Damn the Homoptera: Cercopidae!I just noticed these on our lavender plant. One plant had a sever die off and the other is doing fine. I went through and pinched all of the stems that had spittle on them and threw it in the compost bin. This was the first year I didn’t spray during the fall with dormant oil spray and now am paying the price for it.

  31. 31
    Karen Says:

    I don’t think you should put them in the compost bin. I think they lay their eggs in decaying plant matter.

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