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Spittlebug Responsible for Spit-Like Blobs on Grasses

Do you ever wonder what’s with those frothy, spit-like looking blobs on grasses, weeds, or maybe even your garden plants? They are likely the works of the spittlebug.

Spittlebugs are the nymphs or immature stage of insects known as froghoppers. The nymphs feed on sap from shrubs, trees, and herbaceous plants, but little damage ever occurs.

Any excess sap from their feeding is mixed with a mucous-like fluid that produces a frothy, spittle-like mass. This mass is thought to protect nymphs from predators and prevent them from drying.

The most common spittlebug in the Pacific Northwest, and whose frothy mass we most likely see is the Meadow Spittlebug Philaenus spumarius.

Photo credits: Forest Health Protection; David Cappaert and Cheryl Moorehead