The Q&A Archives: Foamy Pest on Hosta

Question: I noticed a white foamy substance on some of my hosta plants. When I touched it a flat, bright white insect jumped off, out of the foam. What is it, and is it harmful to the plants? If so, what can I do to get rid of it?

Answer: I think you're describing spittlebugs. These small insects feed by sucking the juices out of stems and leaves. They protect themselves from predators by manufacturing a bubbly foam that disguises them, and makes them appear larger than they really are. Spittlebugs can be hosed off plants with a strong stream of water. You can squish them between your fingers, if you'd prefer. They're not as damaging to plants as some of the other insects out there, but they don't make things in the garden look very appealing!

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