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Cuckoo spit

Symptoms

Blobs of white froth on the stems, leaves and flower buds of plants.
Find it on: roses, dahlias, fuchsias, lavender, rosemary and many garden plants
Time to act: spring, summer, autumn

Overview

Protected from predators and the risk of dehydration inside its moist ball of bubbles, the juvenile yellow-green froghopper (or spittle bug) is busy sucking plant sap. It's quite harmless unless it's attacking the shoot tips, which can result in distorted growth. The adult froghoppers (which don't produce any spit) are 6mm long and bright green, with large eyes and a blunt-shaped head, but they're rarely seen because they hop away on their strong back legs at the first sign of danger.
Solution
Blobs of white froth on the stems, leaves and flower buds of plants.
Organic
Cuckoo spit is a temporary inconvenience. Once autumn arrives froghoppers die off, having laid the next generation of eggs. You can either brush the spit off with your hand, or you can wash it off with the hose.



Discuss this problem

Talkback: Cuckoo spit
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VelvetAndroid 24/11/2011 at 15:28

Hi Lara, I'm looking up same issue and consensus seems to say they should be fine to eat - after all, the 'spit' is only the sap of the plant it's on, sort of like a Michelin-starred chef's rosemary foam... Hosed it off several times but the nymphs only spume more, so reckon it's counterproductive since logically they'll suck extra sap to re-conceal themselves..?
I'm inclined to just make sure I give it a thorough wash if I pick an affected section of plant, and check no nymph's still attached!

MuckyPuppy 24/11/2011 at 15:28

I just wipe off the spit and then pick off the froghopper young and wipe them onto tissue. I then just toss the tissue away.

laradurham 24/11/2011 at 15:29

I have cuckoo spit all over my rosemary bush and it's starting on my sage plant as well. If I hose it off as suggested above will the herbs still be ok to eat afterwards or are they inedible now they've been infested?

Sorry if this is a naive question but I'm very new to this!

Lara