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Bubble-blowing flies also known as spittlebugs seem to me to be both odd and marvellous. Most but not all species of flies do this as well as other types of insects including some species of wasps and bees. Though it looks like bubble-blowing, the flies are rather engaging in the regurgitation of droplets of fluid. A droplet, which may be clear or opaque, appears at the end of the flyโ€™s proboscis (tongue). If watched for long enough, very slowly the fly appears to suck in and then regurgitate the fluid several times in succession.

So why do flies do this? It is not entirely certain why, but it has long been thought that it is most likely related to the digestive system and/or to do with thermoregulation.

So for example, in addition to droplet regurgitation being thought to be a mechanism to evaporate excess water from liquid food or as a thermoregulatory mechanism, it has also been suggested that it might be a mechanism for getting rid of toxic substances. It might also be part of complex interactions between plants and insects. In fruit flies there is evidence that it might be to do with the production of sexual pheromones in males to attract potential mates.

About Spittlebug

Have you ever noticed little black insects with red stripes hopping around your lawn? You may also notice a white, foamy substance covering parts of your grass, trees or other plants. If so, these little guys are called spittlebugs, and given the opportunity, they can cause significant damage to your grass. Found predominantly in centipede grass, spittlebugs, also referred to as froghoppers, are garden and turf insects that feed on the fluids found in your grass and ornamentals. Overtime, this can cause grass to turn yellow or brown and die.

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Spittlebug nymphs in particular are the most damaging for plants because they hatch and begin sucking the juices out of grass. Nymphs are usually a light brown or light green color with red eyes. Adult spittlebugs are about a quarter of an inch long and can be found in various colors such as black, brown or yellow. The adults feature big, round red eyes and sometimes have distinct red, yellow or orange stripes across their wings. The color and pattern found on spittlebugs depends on the species.

The two-lined spittlebug is not a picky eater, though it cannot harm people or pets. It feeds on a variety of plants, piercing the stem or leaves with its mouthparts and sucking out the juices within. While it may not be picky, it does have favorites. Holly bushes are one food of choice for this pest and centipedegrass is another, so those growing this grass should keep an eye open. The protective spittle masses are usually close to the ground, so they may not be readily visible from above.

Signs of a Spittlebug Infestation

There are a couple of ways to notice or detect a spittlebug infestation. An easy way to tell is by simply walking through your lawn and observing if any spittlebugs start hopping around. By walking through the grass, you are disturbing the spittlebugs and they will begin hopping out of the way.

You may be able to notice spittlebug lawn damage as well. If you start seeing brown or discolored grass, this could potentially be a result of spittlebugs. Spittlebug nymphs pierce the plants and suck out the plant juices. This will stunt plant growth, leaving the grass or plants weakened and vulnerable to other environmental stressors. However, brown or yellow spots could also serve as indications of disease, chinch bugs or other insects, drought or heat damage.

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Lastly, a telltale sign of detecting a spittlebug infestation is by the presence of the previously mentioned white, frothy substance in the blades of grass or on garden ornamentals. These look like masses of sticky bubbles and theyโ€™re produced by spittlebug nymphs hiding from other predators.

Spittlebug Prevention and Treatment

There are a few various ways to prevent and treat a spittlebug infestation. These methods range from cultural, non-chemical control solutions and chemical products you can purchase to prevent and remove spittlebugs when infestations become severe.

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