What’s that foamy stuff on my roses?

In early spring, masses of thick foam can coat delicate stems on a variety of plants – they’re spittlebugs.  While visually unappealing, they’re generally nothing to be too concerned about. The abundant globs of bubbles are produced by young froghopper larvae as they begin to feed; the frothy mass is thought to serve as protection from predators and prevent the immature pests from drying out.

Spittlebugs feed on a wide range of plants, both in the garden and open space. They occur across the country and can be found on almost any plant. They suck plant juices and heavy infestations may slow plant growth or cause some distortion. Most often, the harbingers of spring are just a little nuisance to the gardener.

You can simply ignore them; they’ll disappear in a matter of a few weeks. If you find them unsightly, a strong blast of water will knock them off plants; that’s usually enough to control the pest.  It’s also a good idea to remove weeds that serve as host plants before the insects mature and spread to other plants. 

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