What is that foam?
Walking along the even rows of lavender early in the early morning is a true country pleasure. The stems and leaves are green, the flowers are beginning to bloom, and there are little globs of white foam here and there on the plants that catch the eye and make one wonder. Sounds romantic, don’t you think?Those little globs are actually the homes of spittle bug nymphs. They produce the foam as they feed on the plants and wouldn’t you know it? Lavender is one of their favorite foods.Spittle bugs, sometimes called froghoppers, are common meadow and garden insects and their babies or nymphs love to feed on plants such as strawberries, roses, herbs, ornamental grasses, and other garden vegetation, secreting that sticky white foam as they eat. Early in the season they’ll emerge from the leaf litter where they’ve overwintered as eggs and nymphs and begin feeding at the base of plants, moving upward looking for tender shoots and leaves as the plants grow.If you were to push aside a bit of the foam with your fingers and look carefully, you might find the little nymph at home. The nymphs have big reddish eyes, translucent, elongated bodies that are about ¼ inch long, and their color changes from light orange to green as they grow. They nibble on the plants for only a few weeks, moving on to greener pastures with long grasses and broadleaf plants. As they become adults their size stays at about ¼ inch in length, but their color changes from green to spotted brown or grey and they develop strong back legs that allow them to hop from plant to plant. They are a bit more difficult to find as they make themselves at home away from the tender things growing in gardens and fields of flowers, so you might not see adult spittle bugs in the lavender.The biggest question of course is whether their eating and foam-making as nymphs hurts the plants they are feeding on. The answer is no - spittle bugs don’t hurt the plants they make their homes in as nymphs and you’d probably not even know they were there if their foamy homes didn’t catch your eye.

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