You may have seen it clumped on plant stems or in a patch of grass and wondered what it was. It looks like a ball of moss, or moss, kinda like someone spat on your plants. Now a warning has been issued that it could potentially damage your garden.
People are now being urged to report any sightings of the strange moss on plants, as it could be linked to the spread of an invasive plant disease that can harm native species, Examiner Live reports.
Spit, as it is called, is produced by an insect called the spittlebug, so named because it produces the frothy substance which then remains on plants and in tall grass. The spittlebug wraps itself in a ball of moss to protect itself as it sucks sap from a plant to feed itself.
The offspring of the red and black creatures, also known as frogs, then hatch on a plant that has the remaining moss ball.
The insect is generally active from late May to late June, so this is peak season for sightings at this time. Although the bugs feed on the plants, they don’t remove enough nutrients to harm it and they don’t harm humans, so you don’t have to do anything to get rid of the spit. So what is the harmful side?
Scientists fear that a deadly plant disease known as Xyella could be spread between plants by the spittlebug, which acts as a vector. Xyella disease has devastated olive groves in Italy in recent years and experts have called it one of the most dangerous pathogens in the world.
If found in the UK, all plants within a 100m radius would have to be destroyed, with around 40 plants within 5km for up to five years, as the disease could wipe out native UK plant species. United.
And because the spittlebug is a potential vector for the disease, scientists are asking people to report any sightings of spittlebug moss, just in case, so that any outbreaks that do occur can be linked and tracked to what’s causing them. .
A Spittlebug Inquiry spokesperson said: “Please let us know when you see sputum, nymphs (juveniles) or adults of xylem-feeding insects (stink bugs/leafhoppers and some leafhoppers) which have the potential to act as vectors for the bacteria.
“These recordings will help us get an idea of where the insects are, what plants they are feeding on and how much they move around. This information will be essential in deciding how best to react if the Xylella bacterium arrives in the UK.”
You can report a sighting here: https://www.spittlebugsurvey.co.uk/how-to-survey-for-xylem-feeding-ins