by Chris Mulder, Barn Owl Nursery
In the late spring and early summer, around the same time as the lavender stems and flower spikes begin to form and grow tall, and when the lavender plants begin to show color, you probably will notice what looks like globs of foamy white spit or spittle clinging to the plants! It is quite common on lavender plants that are grown outside to be affected by the annual pests called Spittle bugs, or Froghoppers in the U.K.
These insects are Cercopiae. They are rarely a problem since they are not a serious threat to lavender plants. However, they may cause the foliage on your plants to be slightly distorted. They also take away from the beautiful sight of lavender blooming in your field or garden.
The little green insects inside the ‘spit’ can also be a little messy when you are harvesting your lavender by hand. You may have to shake off the ‘spit’ and the insects that are hiding within it.
Here are some organic choices for dealing with these pests.
- Ignore them and they will slowly disappear in two or three weeks, causing minimal damage.
- Spray them off the plants with a light steam of water. However, if you are harvesting your lavender to dry, you will have to wait until the water has dried before you bundle the lavender and hang it to dry.
- If this pest becomes a real problem, then plants can be washed regularly with a water jet or drenched with soft soap so that it penetrates the ‘spit’ and reaches the insect inside.
For the soft soap method:
Dissolve 3 tablespoons of Fels Naptha bar soap in one gallon of hot water. Mix well. Allow it to cool before placing in a spray bottle. Spray the affected areas on your plants, as needed.