Help! Leaves growing out distorted w/white foamy stuff on back

juudyshouse2012June 5, 2007

I have 3 hydrangeas that are approx. 3 yrs old. Two are doing great, but the 3rd one, some kind of mophead variety and a little smaller than the other two, is growing with extremely disformed curling leaves. I examined it last night, and found white foamy stuff on the backside of the curling leaves. The leaves are not dried or spotted, just not growing open and flat like they're supposed to. Do you know what the problem could be? It must be some kind of insect. How can I get rid of it?


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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Spittle bugs. May distort growth but seldom a serious problem.

You dispatch them by hand or forceful water sprays. But you must destroy the foam which protects the youngster inside it.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 4:18PM
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So you think it's spittle bugs. I guess I didn't realize that spittle bugs caused the new growth of leaves to curl and be so distorted! I have seen this on other plants in my garden this year, but only saw the white foam. The other plants I saw it on did not have the bad looking leaf growth. So, you think it's effective to just wash it off with a strong water spray? No need for anything stronger?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 4:35PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Judy, the foam protects them from any chemical you might use. If your hydrangea is the size you describe, you can spray away the foam with water, or take a paper towel, wipe them off and squash. You're going to find a little green to yellow-green soft nymph inside the foam. The nymph is sucking sap, causing the distortion.

And when you're done with your hydrangea, you can come and do my lavender - they are covered this year, along with the hardy fuchsias :)

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 11:16PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

A picture of the "adult players", courtesy of the Department of Entomology at Oregon State University:

and a picture of their offspring, courtesy of the Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University:

Factoid: did you know that this pest can withstand jumps of 400G's???? Wow! For more information about spittle bugs, click on this link and this link.


Here is a link that might be useful: Spittle Bug Jumping Record Story

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 5:28AM
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silvergold(z5a WI)

Without a picture it is hard to tell. But mine get attacked by leaf rollers every year. They are very hard to see - had to take to a garden center and they pointed them out to me. They leave a white sticky substance on the inside where it is rolled together. Just thought I would mention as a possibility. This is actually more in my paniculata. But this year I noticed some damage in my arboresenc as well - so suppose they could hit macrophylla too.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 8:18AM
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Last night I went out there and hosed off all the foamy white stuff from the back of the leaves. And, I did find some little critters mixed in. I'm sure it was spittle bug. I'm going to keep a close eye on it and hopefully, the new leaves will now grow flat and all will be well.

Thanks for all your help!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 12:47PM
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