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Extension > Garden > Yard and Garden > Fruit > Pest management in the home strawberry patch > Spittlebugs

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Including meadow spittlebug,
Philaenus spumarius

close up of unripe strawberry plant with spitty mass

Spittlebug foamy mass.

Jeff Hahn, University of Minnesota

Spittlebug is a common insect in strawberries in Minnesota home gardens but it is not usually damaging enough to be considered a problem. The nymphs create a foamy mass that they use for protection.


close up of unripe strawberry plant with spitty mass

Immature spittlebug hidden in 'spittle'.

Jeff Hahn, University of Minnesota

close up of larva on leaf covered in spittle

Immature spittlebug.

R. Bercha,

close up of black and white spotted bug on leaf

Adult spittlebug.

Jeff Hahn, University of Minnesota

The easiest way to identify spittlebugs is from the presence of the 'spittle' they create. These spittle masses can be up to 3/4 inch in size. The nymphs are inside. They are soft-bodied, elongated, yellow to green in color, and up to 1/4 in. in length. The adults are 1/4 inch long; they start out green and then turn brown or grey, although they are not usually seen.

Important biology

Spittlebugs overwinter as eggs. Nymphs emerge in late April or early May and start feeding at the base of the plants, but continue to move up, preferring tender foliage and blossom tissues. The nymphs mature in 5 - 8 weeks and as adults migrate to nearby grassy areas, pastures or areas with broadleaf weeds. The females return in September and October and lay clusters of eggs amongst plant debris or in leaves and stems. . There is only one generation per year.


Spittlebug nymphs pierce the plant stems and suck plant juices. In most cases, spittlebug feeding is not damaging to plants. If large populations are present, feeding can cause leaves to become distorted and berries stunted.


The spittlebug's foam is easily recognized. In late April or early May begin by looking for spittle and nymphs in the crown area at the base of the plants. Check every 2 weeks and as the plants grow begin to inspect the underside of young leaves as well as the crown area.

Spittlebugs will begin to be annoying at 1 spittle mass per sq. ft. a so called "aesthetic threshold". At 5 or more spittle masses per sq. ft. yields can be affected.

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