As many as 54 native species in North America.
Spittlebugs feed on a wide assortment of landscape shrubs, trees, or turf, with the potential to cause some level of damage to the plant if populations are high. Most often it is the presence of the unsightly “spit” like blobs of white foam that cause concern to homeowners. Depending on the species there may be 1 or 2 generations each year, with the egg stage over-wintering.
Similar in appearance to many leafhoppers, but distinguished by characters on the hind leg, where the spittlebug has several very stout spines instead of the neat row of thin spines present on leafhoppers. The most noticeable stage will be as the nymph, when the insect exudes a white bubbly mass about one half inch across. The nymph stays within this froth as its protection. The adults have fully developed wings that lay roof-like over the abdomen, and the insect is usually some shade of brown, often with dark patches, lines or other markings on them.
Characteristicts Important to Control:
Simply washing spittle masses off the plants may be sufficient to control small numbers of the insects. The use of an insecticidal soap also can penetrate the spittle and provide contact kill, or the use of a residual insecticide such as a pyrethroid can be effective. The spray should be directed at the spittle masses to ensure the insecticide penetrates to contact the actual insect. A soil application of a systemic such as imidacloprid can be effective if applied well prior to the onset of the infestation, and continue to be effective throughout the growing season.