Spit Bugs

I’ve noticed a foamy white substance on the stems of my roses and also the blackberries in the backyard. I asked my mother, a prolific gardener, and Rob’s mother, who has lived in this region her whole life, and yet it was Rob who had instant recognition, “Spit bugs!” he said. “There’s a bug in there. You didn’t know that?”

We assumed that was just what he called them, so I was googling things like “foamy cocoon,” but wouldn’t you know it, Huntington Botanical Gardens identifies them as “Spittlebugs”

Often this time of the year gardeners will see foamy, disgusting-looking masses on the stems and leaves of soft herbaceous plants. The nymphs of the appropriately named Spittlebug cause this. Once winter is over and Spittlebug eggs have hatched, the newly emerged nymphs begin feeding and produce the frothy spittle masses to protect themselves from predators. Even a bug will not eat a Spittlebug so protected! Not usually seen on roses, an infestation of Spittlebugs can be cleaned up with a strong spray of water washing away the foamy spittle masses.

‘Course it says not usually seen on roses, but then, I’ve always been special.