Scouting for pests: Spittle bug

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.

Adult spittlebugs are 6 to 8 mm long and black, brown or yellow with distinct red eyes. The adults may possess orange bands on the wings, depending on the species. Nymphs are cream-colored with brown heads and red eyes. Generally, spittlebugs don’t cause significant plant damage, although they may stipple leaves.


A hard water spray will quickly remove spittlebugs from plants. Contact insecticides may be used, although their effectiveness is often reduced by the frothy covering, which prevents the insecticide from making contact with spittlebug nymphs or adults.

Editor’s note: The information in this article is from MSU Extension publication E-2981, A Pocket Guide for IPM Scouting in Herbaceous Perennials. The publication can be ordered through MSU Extension:

Spittlebug nymphs produce a frothy white
mass or “spittle” in the center of stems or leaf
axils. This covering protects spittlebugs from
predators and environmental conditions.

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