Cuckoo spit

Cuckoo spit

Find out what causes cuckoo spit to appear on plants in late spring, and how it got its name.

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Cuckoo spit is a spit-like frothy mass of bubbles, which is found on plants from May onwards – around the same time as the cuckoos return from Africa and start to sing. Inside each mass of cuckoo spit is a juvenile yellow-green froghopper (or spittle bug). Despite being a sap-sucker, this small bug is is completely harmless to plants. 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.

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Cuckoo spit symptoms

Blobs of white froth on the stems, leaves and flower buds of plants.

Find cuckoo spit on

Roses, dahlias, fuchsias, lavender, rosemary and many garden plants.

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Organic methods of controlling cuckoo spit

Cuckoo spit is a temporary inconvenience. Once autumn arrives froghoppers die off, having laid the next generation of eggs for the following year. It’s best to leave the froghoppers to get on with being froghoppers. But if you really want to remove them you can either brush the spit off with your hand, or wash it off with the hose.