Cuckoo spit

Cuckoo spit

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

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
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Time to act

Do not Time to act in January

Do not Time to act in February

Do Time to act in March

Do Time to act in April

Do Time to act in May

Do Time to act in June

Do Time to act in July

Do Time to act in August

Do Time to act in September

Do Time to act in October

Do Time to act in November

Do not Time to act in December

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.


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.


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.