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Spittlebug Treatment

What Are Spittlebugs?

During spring, you might notice tiny clusters of sticky, frothy bubbles on various plants in your garden or yard. These blobs of white foam are made by young spittlebugs, which are small insects belonging to the same group as aphids and other true bugs, called Hemiptera. In North America, there are over 30 species of spittlebugs, and the meadow spittlebug (Philaenus spumarius) is one of the most common kinds found in the Midwest.

These common pests are found in lawns with Bermuda or centipede grass. Resembling leafhoppers, they’re about ⅓ inch long with tented wings forming a V-shape. These small insects earn their name from the patches of foamy “spit” they create along plant stems. They make this frothy substance by mixing air with their liquid waste, though not from their mouths, so it’s not technically spit. The young bugs feed by attaching themselves head-down on the stem and the extra plant sap is released through their rear end. The foam shields their young, safeguarding them from predators and pesticides until adulthood.

Adult spittlebugs use their mouths to feed on various plants. Although heavy infestations are uncommon, they can lead to yellow or dead patches of grass. Regular mowing and de-thatching can maintain lawn health. Since spittlebugs thrive in moisture, avoid over-watering. If encountered, manually remove or use a powerful water stream, as the foam protects them from pesticides.

When Do They Emerge?

Spittlebugs typically emerge in early to mid-spring. The process begins with the hatching of tiny white eggs, which have overwintered within plant stems. Over the following month or two, the nymphs undergo several molts while sheltered within the foam they create. This series of molts continues until the nymphs mature into adults, which occurs during late spring or early summer. This emergence from their foam-covered shelter marks the transition from nymph to adult spittlebugs. This lifecycle pattern constitutes a single generation each year. 

Do you see spittlebugs on your property? Reach out to the experts in Birmingham for your lawn and tree care needs. We serve Birmingham, AL and the surrounding community.

Where Are Spittlebugs Usually Seen?

Spittlebugs tend to be commonly observed in lawns that feature Bermuda or centipede grass. These pests have varied dietary preferences, feeding on different grasses, weeds, and various herbaceous plants. Their presence is often noticeable in a range of plant varieties, such as roses, chrysanthemums, Shasta daisies, and goldenrods. The meadow spittlebug, in particular, exhibits a wide-ranging appetite, including plants like alfalfa, clover, strawberries, and a variety of garden plants.

Additionally, the pine spittlebug, scientifically known as Aphrophora parallella, occasionally makes an appearance on the foliage of certain tree species. These species include Scotch, Austrian, and white pines, as well as spruces and firs. This demonstrates that spittlebugs can adapt their habitat and feeding preferences to different types of plants, making them a versatile and adaptable pest species.

What Damage Do Spittlebugs Cause?

Spittlebugs usually don’t harm ornamental plants much, but people might worry when they see bubbly foam and think about touching it while picking berries. Washing away the foam with a strong water spray exposes the young bugs to enemies or makes them dry out. But this trick doesn’t completely get rid of them, because they start making foam again when they go back to plants they like.

When there are lots of spittlebugs around, especially when it’s dry, bigger problems can happen. They can eat plants so much that the plants don’t give as much fruit, and the fruit might not grow properly, especially in strawberries. To fix this, people might have to use ways to control the bugs, and local plant experts could suggest using special chemicals to reduce the number of spittlebugs on strawberry plants. Also, if there are a lot of pine spittlebugs, they can make things harder too. Their eating can make sticky stuff that blocks plant juices and lets bad things in, like germs.

Ensure your family’s safety. Safeguard your property. Contact the professionals at Heritage Lawn & Tree Care, your trusted experts in Birmingham.

How to Get Rid of Them?

To address the issue of getting rid of spittlebugs, the University of Minnesota Extension provides valuable insights. The vulnerability of centipedegrass to the damage caused by two-lined spittlebugs is notable. However, these pests also target other grass types, including bermudagrass, St. Augustine, bahiagrass, and zyosia. The initial line of defense against two-lined spittlebugs involves adopting proper cultural practices. Ensuring a healthy lawn through appropriate watering, mowing, and fertilization practices can mitigate the impacts of spittlebug damage. Additionally, strategies like dethatching affected areas and applying a layer of sand can help limit the available habitat for these insects.

In cases where spittlebug populations grow significantly, considering a chemical treatment might be warranted. When applying approved insecticides, it’s recommended to do so during the early evening, after mowing and watering the turf. This timing enhances the effectiveness of the treatment. Adhering to the instructions on the product label is essential before using insecticides, and wearing the recommended protective gear is advised. Furthermore, it’s important to keep pets and children away from the treated turf area until the specified re-entry interval (REI) has passed.

To effectively eliminate spittlebugs, several measures can be taken:

  • Removing nearby weeds in your garden can eliminate a food source for the spittlebugs.
  • Physically removing them by hand can be effective.
  • Using a forceful stream of water to dislodge the nymphs from the plants can help control their population.

It’s important to note that pesticides are generally ineffective against spittlebugs because the nymphs are shielded within their foam masses, making them resistant to pesticide sprays.

Under SpittleBugs Attack? Call Us Today!

These little bugs can be tricky to spot. Noticing them isn’t always easy. When your lawn starts having problems, it’s important to act quickly. This can stop more damage that could be really hard to fix later on. But don’t worry, we at Heritage Lawn & Tree Care believe in our bug sprays and lawn care plans. If your grass looks brown or unhealthy, we’re ready to help using safe spittlebug treatments and products.

We’re proud to offer lawn care and spittlebug treatment in Birmingham, AL, and the surrounding areas. Feel free to get in touch with us to learn about our bug control services. Our friendly team is here to help with your questions and concerns.

If your lawn suffering from the damaging effects of spittlebugs, don’t let these pests ruin the beauty of your outdoor space!  Combat spittlebug damage with Heritage Lawn & Tree Care! Contact us at (205) 995-3331 today. Our experts specialize in effective spittlebug treatment, swiftly restoring your landscape’s health. Don’t let these pests take over – act now and reclaim your vibrant outdoor space!