Scientific Name: Philaenus spumarius
Other name: Spittlebug, Cuckoo Spit
Froghoppers are small sap-sucking insects which are able to jump great distances if they feel threatened. They are a dark brownish colour and have a frog-like appearance.
The most common sighting is during early summer as so-called 'cuckoo spit' on stems and leaves which is caused by the nymphs as they secrete excess sap from their rear end to form a protective froth when they feed. The damage to soft, rapidly growing plant tissue sometimes causes it to become distorted.
The damage is not usually severe and they do not need treatment. However, they can transmit disease as they move from plant to plant. One such disease is Xylella fastidiosa a bacterium which can affect a wide range of plants by blocking the xylem, the water-conducting vessels, leading to death. Up until 2013 it was found only in the Americas and Taiwan, but in that year it was found in Italy infecting olive trees, and France in 2015, so there is a risk that it could be brought to the UK on imported material and spread by sap-sucking insects such as the froghoppers. Symptoms of the disease are leaves withering and turning brown, and dieback of branches leadin to the eventual death of the plant. It affects more than 350 species including oaks, elms, cherries, rosemary and lavender. Affected plants and those surrounding them, must be uprooted and burnt to prevent spread of the disease. The EU is spending 3 million euros to find a remedy. Gardening experts, the Government, the National Trust, the Royal Horticultural Society and Prince Charles have all expressed their concern about the threat from this most deadly plant disease.
If they are to be removed a squirt of water usually dislodges the cuckoo spit and the nymph. Permethrin can be used as a spray.
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