Common Froghopper, Cuckoo Spit, Spittlebug, Meadow Froghopper, Froghopper Nymph, Common Meadow Spittlebug, Meadow Spittlebug
Philaenus spumarius is sometimes known as a Froghopper, Spittlebug, Meadow Spittlebug or Cuckoo Spit. It has a widespread distribution, and you can find them in forests, fields, parks, meadows and gardens. The young insects (nymphs) consume plant sap, and they'll secrete a foamy liquid while feeding to conceal themselves (cuckoo spit). Adult hoppers lay eggs in plant stems late in summer, which overwinters and hatches the following spring. Important monitoring attempts surrounding this species are underway in order to pre-emptively combat the spread of dangerous plant disease. It is caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, which spittlebugs can transmit from plant to plant whilst feeding. It's not yet been found in the UK, however people across the country are being asked to report sightings of spittlebugs to help map the distribution of this species.
They can transfer disease between plants.
Froghoppers are a key food resource for predatory insects and birds.
Adults: They range from 5mm to 7mm. Females are usually larger than males. They can be a variable yellow, brown or black colour. Some will have a mottled/ brindled appearance, whereas others will be just one colour. They have two large wings and can fly, walk as well as jumping long distances between leaves. Nymphs: The nymph looks very similar to the adults, although, are typically smaller. The wings are not yet developed, so juveniles cannot fly like the adults. They're often seen submerged in white frothy foam, which keeps them hidden while they suck the sap from herbaceous plants.
White foamy liquid on foliage. Pale yellow-green bugs in foamy mass. Distorted growth. Mottled leaves.
Europe, Asia, Africa, and America
These insects bring about a few adverse effects in plants. However, they don't cause too many problems overall. Use a jet of water to dislodge these insects from plants. Homemade insecticides using water. Bio-soap and garlic can help repel insects. Attracting insects like ladybugs and green lacewing can help to control numbers of froghoppers. Allow areas of the garden to grow, or just trim, mow and prune less frequently! Hanging baskets and climbing plants can provide areas of cover for beneficial insects to hide during the day.
Current research is investigating the potential effect of the bacteria Xyella fastidiosa, which these insects are potential vectors of. The research seeks to map their distribution what eats so the spread of X. fastidiosa can be predicted, ultimately enabling quicker action if it reaches UK shores. If you see these insects in your garden, don't be too alarmed!
These insects are drawn to herbaceous plants, found in roadside verges, forest and garden habitats.
Spiders and solitary wasps, ladybirds, lacewing and birds will eat these insects.