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RHS calls on volunteers to spot spittlebugs

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is calling on gardeners, nature lovers and citizen scientists to help the UK respond to the threat of Xylella fastidiosa, a bacterium that results in the disease and death of many popular garden plants.
The charity, working with the University of Sussex and Forest Research, needs thousands of volunteers to help map the distribution of spittlebugs. It is one of the chief carriers of Xylella, that can be found in gardens, meadows, grasslands and woodlands from April to late June.
Spittlebugs, also called froghoppers, are small, sap-sucking insects that can transmit Xylella as they move between and feed on plants. The most common species in the UK is the meadow spittlebug (Philaenus spumarius). Adults measure 1/2 cm long, vary in pattern and colour from pale brown to black and can jump up to 70 cm. There are ten species of spittlebug in the UK and the young – called nymphs – all produce whitish, frothy blobs of spittle on leaves and branches.
Each volunteer is being asked to report sightings of spittle, whether in their garden or on plants elsewhere, online through iRecord after registering. Volunteers will need to report their name, the location the spittle was seen and when, and most importantly the species of plant on which it was found. This information will help researchers understand how Xylella might enter and spread in the UK. Further information about the survey and froghoppers can be found here.
This citizen science study forms part of a broader research project called BRIGIT. It is being delivered by a consortium of eleven leading UK research organisations, all working to enhance UK surveillance and response to Xylella fastidiosa.
In light of the threat of Xylella, the RHS has revised its plant health policy called on gardeners and the industry to future proof gardens by purchasing host plants that are UK-sourced or grown and maintaining varied plantings.
The launch of the spittlebug survey follows an updated assessment on the risks posed by Xylella fastidiosa to plants and crops in the European Union by the European Food Safety Authority earlier this week.
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  1. I have seen lots of spittle blobs in my garden over the years – this year is no exception. I see them mainly on varieties of camapnula . I live in Dundee in Scotland. I have seen a small number of bugs – brownish and quite small.

  2. I have spotted the spittle of a spittle bug on my plants and the spittle bug insect on a plant on monday the 1st of June 2019 at my home in Crestwood Avenue Kidderminster Worcestershire

  3. I am finding blobs of spittle foam on my black current and gooseberry bushes in my alittmy in Folkestone, KENT.
    I’m going to try the garlic, pepper and soap solution.

  4. I have found blobs of spittle on lavender and rosemary in my garden, but have not seen insects. Spittle on a rose bush contained a caterpillar about 3/4cm, black with two rows of red spots. Whether guilty or unfairly accused I cannot say.

  5. I came across cuckoo spit in my son’s small garden in Kingston-upon-Thames on 20th May. I think the plant was Rosemary.
    I then came across cuckoo spit in my own front garden in Chandlers Ford, Hampshire, today (1st June). It was on English Lavender – there was also some on a shrub in my back garden (same day). I don’t know the name of the shrub.

  6. On holiday from the US where spittle bugs are common. I have seen them on lavender in Faversham (Newton Street) and in Broadstairs also on lavender.

  7. I’m not sure but in merryhill drive in Enfield the plants have a lot of spittle on them I didn’t see bugs and I just happen upon them as I parked my car I have photos if that can help anyone

  8. I was tidying up my mums garden and found cuckoo spit on a dandelion and using a twig I checked for spittlebugs after seeing it on BBC news East Midlands. To my surprise I did find a spittle bug. I have taken photos and have reported this as requested by the BBC.

  9. Just planted out some courgettes and noticed spittle on lavender and looking closer saw the yellow lava. Sprayed with soapy water and saw it crawl out.As there is a high number of spittle blobs looks as though there will lots of bugs!
    Chatham ,Kent

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