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Urgent warning as froth-like substance found on plants linked to deadly disease

todayJune 13, 2022

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An urgent warning has been issued after a froth-like substance found on plants has been linked to deadly disease. As the sunshine starts to appear as we enter summer in the UK, many people will be quick to enjoy activities outdoors – whether that’s your own back garden or a nearby park.

But members of the public are being asked to keep their eyes peeled for what looks like a ball of froth or foam – or that someone has spat on your plants. This is because the substance is potentially harmful. It could be linked to the spread of an invasive plant disease which can harm native species, YorkshireLive reports.

The substance is made by an insect called a spittlebug, which produces the weird froth that gets left behind on plants and in long grass. The spittlebug coats itself in a ball of foam for protection as it sucks on the sap from a plant for nutrition.

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The spittlebug is red and black and it’s offspring hatch on a plant which has the leftover ball of foam. The insect is usually active from the end of May to the end of June.

The insects feed on the plants and don’t remove enough nutrition to harm it and they don’t hurt humans, so you don’t need to do anything to get rid of the spittle. But scientists are worried that a deadly plant disease known as Xyella could be spread between plants by the spittlebug as a carrier. The Xyella disease has devastated olive groves in Italy in the past few years and experts say it is one of the world’s most dangerous pathogens.



Have you seen this foam in your garden?
Have you seen this foam in your garden?

If it was found in the UK, all plants within a 100m radius would need to be destroyed, with a 5km plant quarantine for up to five years afterwards because the disease could wipe out native UK plant species.

Scientists are now asking people to report any sightings of the spittlebug is a potential carrier of the disease, so that any outbreaks that occur could be linked and tracked to what causes them.

A spokesperson for the Spittlebug survey said: “Please let us know when you see either spittle, nymphs (juveniles) or adults of the xylem-feeding insects (spittlebugs / froghoppers and some leafhoppers ) that have the potential to act as vectors of the bacteria.

“These records will help us build up a picture of where the bugs are found, what plants they feed on and how much they move around. This information will be essential for deciding how best to respond should the Xylella bacterium arrive in the UK.”

You can report a sighting here: https://www.spittlebugsurvey.co.uk/how-to-survey-for-xylem-feeding-ins

Written by: thehitnetwork

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