Hoppers of North Carolina:
Spittlebugs, Leafhoppers, Treehoppers, and Planthoppers
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APHROPHORIDAE Members: NC Records

Philaenus spumarius - Meadow Spittlebug



© Kyle Kittelberger- side view; one of many color
varieties

© Kyle Kittelberger- side view; Philaenus
spumarius typica

© Kyle Kittelberger- possibly Philaenus spumarius
quadrimaculatus

© Paul Scharf- 5th instar nymph
Taxonomy
Family: APHROPHORIDAE
Identification
Online Photographs: BugGuide                                                                                  
Description: A highly variable species, ranging in color from brown, green, yellow, pink, pale, black-and-white, mottled, etc. It may appear solid in coloration or have different patterns across its wings. For an example of some color varieties, see: Meadow Spittlebug Variation. Wings have a fine covering of hair that typically blends in with the wing color, and veins are not raised and dark as in Philaronia. Adult males are 5.2-6.4 mm long, females are 5.4-6.8 mm. Nymphs are also variable in color: the first instar is orange, instars 2 through 4 are yellow, and the last nymphal stage is pale green NCSU. There are two distinct subspecies (of four total known) that have been recorded in the state recently: Philaenus spumarius typica, which is pale and mottled, and [possibly] P. s. quadrimaculatus, which is dark and mottled. These two subspecies, especially the latter one, maybe confused with Aphrophora quadrinotata; however, P. spumarius lacks the heavily pitted elytra found in A. quadrinotata.
Distribution in North Carolina
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Distribution: Native to and widespread across the Palaerctic (Eurasia), it has spread to North America through range expansions where it is abundant throughout the country except in the arid Southwest. It was first recorded in North America in Newfoundland about 1000 years ago. Most common in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest. BG
Abundance: Common and widespread across much of the state, with many records from the mountains and Piedmont. Seemingly absent from much of the coastal plain, but this could be due to a lack of collecting or searching in those areas.
Seasonal Occurrence
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Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Found in herbaceous, vegetated areas and field-type habitat, but can also be found near or even within forested areas.
Plant Associates: This species infests over 400 different plants, including alfalfa, red clover, wheat, oats, corn, and strawberries. BG. Has also been found on Milkweed. This species has also been found on Ambrosia, Solidago, Betula, Medicago sativa, Trifolium, Zea mays, and Fragaria ananassa (DL).
Behavior: Eggs hatch in North Carolina in late March; the nymphs then seek sheltered, humid parts of plants. When they begin feeding, nymphs exude a frothy spittle mass that protects them from natural enemies and desiccation. The nymphs will feed for a month or longer and then, depending on temperature, develop into adults in late May or June. As the foliage adults are feeding on dries out, they migrate to new host plants. In late August or early September, females begin to deposit eggs. NCSU
Comment: A major agricultural pest species, it causes severe damage to a variety of plants. Affected plants wilt and become stunted. Eggs are white, oblong, and about 1mm in length. They become light brown before nymphs hatch. NCSU
Status: Native
Global and State Rank:

Species Photo Gallery for Philaenus spumarius Meadow Spittlebug

Photo by: Paul Scharf
Warren Co.
Comment: Nymph Spotted on leaf ( Milkweed ? )
Photo by: Paul Scharf
Ashe Co.
Comment: Spotted on Milkweed
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger
Wake Co.
Comment: spittle found in a marshy/very vegetated section of Falls Lake, near a creek
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf
Ashe Co.
Comment: mixed hardwood forest habitat; one of many varieties
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf
Surry Co.
Comment: grassy, brushy habitat near forest edge & forest
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf
Surry Co.
Comment: grassy, brushy habitat near forest edge & forest
Photo by: Paul Scharf
Warren Co.
Comment: NYMPH, Found in Spittle
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf
Avery Co.
Comment: grassy and brushy vegetation surrounded by forest
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf
Avery Co.
Comment: grassy and brushy vegetation surrounded by forest
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf
Avery Co.
Comment: grassy and brushy vegetation surrounded by forest
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf
Avery Co.
Comment: grassy and brushy vegetation surrounded by forest
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf
Avery Co.
Comment: grassy and brushy vegetation surrounded by forest
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf
Mitchell Co.
Comment: grassy, brushy vegetation in the open on the top of the mountain; the bald
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf
Caldwell Co.
Comment: grassy, brushy habitat along roadside
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf
Avery Co.
Comment: grassy, brushy habitat and forest edge/interior
Photo by: Rob Van Epps
Mecklenburg Co.
Comment: Grassy, open area.