Name: Philaenus spumarius

Alias: Spittlebug or meadow froghopper. Adults resemble a small brown froglike insect approximately a quarter of an inch in length. They are extremely fast and use their strong jumping ability to flee from enemies when faced with danger. The nymphs make their presence known my excreting a frothy foam all over the external plants that they occupy. These bubbles serve as a protection from predators and the elements. They complete their lifecycle inside the foam and do not leave until it has completely dried up.

Crimes: They can stress plant growth by feeding on plants. They can kill younger plants if the plant is young enough. This is a particular problem with new alfalfa stands or household plants grown from seed.

Redeeming Qualities: None known

Sentence: Spittlebugs are hard to control with insecticides because most chemicals that are labeled to kill spittlebugs cannot penetrate into their wall of bubbles. This is a problem because the time to control them is while they are in the nymph stage. Once they are adults, then control options will have little effect. Fortunately, they do not generally cause significant enough damage to merit control. Sometimes control is necessary with newly seeded high-value crops. Many pyrethroid-based insecticides will carry spittlebugs on their label. Timing is critical. If they can be exposed when the come out of their eggs in the spring. Always read and follow insecticide label instructions.

For more information on dangerous and beneficial bugs, call UI Extension educator Joseph Sagers at 208-745-6685 or email