Spittlebugs

Meadow spittlebug, Philaenus spumarius, can be a pest of a variety of ornamental plants particularly herbacious perennials and herbs. Heavy feeding by spittlebugs can stunt plant growth and commonly causes distortion of the new growth on which they feed.

Meadow spittlebugs overwinter as eggs that have been laid on host plants in the fall. Tiny orange nymphs emerge from the eggs in the spring. There are five stages or instars of spittlebug nymphs, which change from orange to yellow to the pale green before the final molt to the adult stage. While feeding, the nymphs produce a foamy spittle or froth that protects them from predators and drying out. Adults are variable in coloring, brown or tan, and often mottled.

 

The following websites have useful information on meadow spittlebugs.

 

University of California Statewide IPM Phenology Model Database:Meadow Spittlebug

University of Illinois Field crop IPM: Meadow Spittlebugs

North Carolina State University: Meadow Spittlebug

A site with good photos of the variably colored adults:
CedarCreek Natural History Area: Philaenus species

 

Original publication: 4/27/2004
Last update: 4/5/16

Author: R.L. Rosetta, Extension Nursery Integrated Pest Management, Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University

Spittlebug adult. Photo: Ken Gray

Spittlebug adult.
Photo: Ken Gray

Spittlebug damage on penstemon

Spittlebug damage on penstemon

Spittlebug froth and damage on chrysanthemum

Spittlebug froth and damage on chrysanthemum

Spittlebug froth on rosemary

Spittlebug froth on rosemary

Spittlebug froth on sage

Spittlebug froth on sage

Meadow spittlebug eggs. Photo: Ken Gray

Meadow spittlebug eggs.
Photo: Ken Gray

spittlebug nymph on Dianthus

spittlebug nymph on Dianthus

Spittlebug nymph. Photo: Ken Gray

Spittlebug nymph.
Photo: Ken Gray

Meadow spittlebug eggs. Photo: Ken Gray

Meadow spittlebug eggs.
Photo: Ken Gray

Adult meadow spittlebug on Dianthus

Adult meadow spittlebug on Dianthus