Order Hemiptera: Family Cercopidae
Pest description and damage Spittlebugs are first noticed in late spring within white frothy masses of bubbles on grasses, herbaceous plants, shrubs and conifers. Small nymphs of the spittlebug are mostly greenish with conspicuous red eyes; different species may have different coloration. In most landscape gardens, there may be some wrinkling of the leaf or stem where the young spittlebugs are feeding. Froghopper adults are found later in spring and summer. They look like leafhopper adults, but froghoppers are shorter and wider. One diagnostic feature is that the hind legs of froghoppers lack spines. Damage from adults is slight.
Biology and life cycle Eggs are laid in late summer in the axils of plants and hatch in spring. According to one set of theories, the young spittlebugs begin to suck plant juices and excrete the liquids along with air resulting in a froth of bubbles covering the bug. The spittle protects the nymphs from drying out and from predators and parasitoids. Adults emerge in mid- to late-summer.
Pest monitoring The obvious indicator is the white frothy "spittle" especially on field grasses and flowers. Most people object more to the spittle than the spittlebug or the slight puckering of leaves.
It is easy to hose off the plants if the spittle becomes too objectionable. Since most spittlebugs in the PNW cause little significant damage to plant, they can be ignored.
Several wasp species have been reported to parasitize spittle bug eggs, as well as a big-headed fly (Pipunclulidae) that can cause 50-60% parasitism of adults.
Not recommended for home landscapes
For more information
Rosetta, R. L. 2004. Spittlebugs (http://oregonstate.edu/dept/nurspest/spittlebugs.htm)