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Froghopper

Scientific Name: Philaenus spumarius
Other name: Spittlebug, Cuckoo Spit

image of adult Froghopper
Adult Froghopper

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.

image of froghopper nymph and cuckoo spit
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 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 froghoppers. Symptoms of the disease are leaves withering and turning brown, and dieback of branches. 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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