Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Meadow Spittlebug

Meadow spittlebugs (Philaenus spumarius) are relatives of the leafhoppers and you might be familiar with the masses of ‘spit’ their nymphs produce to hide from predators and parasites. The animals mix liquid waste products with spit, whipping air bubbles into this froth by using fingerlike appendages at the tip of their abdomen. This foam also keeps the bugs moist.

The meadow spittlebug is considered a serious pest of strawberries throughout North America and Europe especially in areas of high relative humidity. But Spittlebugs are not really very selective. We know that they feed on over 400 species of agricultural plants. Spittlebug nymphs can damage plants when there are many on one plant. The nymphs suck on plant juices and stop plants from further growth.

Adult Meadow Spittlebugs are often called froghoppers for their plump appearance and their remarkable jumping abilities.

Spittlebugs mate in late Summer. Females lay eggs on stems of plants. The eggs overwinter, since they can resist frost. In Spring, the nymphs hatch from the eggs and start eating and producing their ‘spit’.

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