Spittlebugs Fill Trees With Foam

— Written By and last updated by Carol Hicks

Small clumps of foam from spittlebugs. Notice yellow nymphs to the right where I moved away some foam. Photo: SD Frank

Spittlebugs are a group of insects in the Family Cercopidae (Froghoppers & Spittlebugs) that have the unusual ability to produce foam. The foam is not actually spittle because it comes from their anus. Nymphs produce the foam for protection from natural enemies and the environment. Spttlebugs overwinter as eggs in the tree branches. Nymphs hatch from the eggs in early spring and produce their frothy homes. Now you can find relatively small masses of foam in conifers that will grow bigger. The nymphs are feeding on phloem but usually do not do meaningful damage to the tree although some people find the foam unsightly. Spittlebugs usually do not warrant insecticide control but the foam masses can be pruned out or destroyed with a stream of water to dislodge the nymphs.