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spit bugs on rosemary plants

Posted by allenabq Albuquerque (My Page) on
Thu, Dec 7, 06 at 22:09

This past summer, I installed two rosemary plants in my backyard. I had thought given this plant's hardiness that they would be a no-brainer for easy care here in the Albquerque area.

What I was treated to instead was a massive infestation of spit bugs on the plants. Plus some other cobwebby parasites of the unidentified sorts infesting the lower reaches of one rosemary close to the ground.

The spit bugs are talked about on web sites as 'harmless' and you can just knock them off with water. Well they aren't harmless at all here. They sucked so much moisture out of my one rosemary that the whole plant began to shrivel. Spraying them with water would only hold the bugs back for a day at most. By the day after, the plant would be covered with 'spit globs' again. The plant recovered somewhat during October when it got too cold for the bugs, but it still looks weak and twiggy.

Anyone have any suggestions for how to deal with these pests and still be able to occasionally use the rosemary for cooking? I couldn't bring myself to use the plant even after a sprig had been cleaned pretty thoroughly.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: spit bugs on rosemary plants

I got the same advice about the spit bugs from the county extension office. I just spray off the white foam also. If you transplanted them in the summer they were likely stressed due to the time you chose to transplant. When plants are stressed, bugs seem to pick up on that I've noticed. I would make sure for the first couple of seasons to do regular deep watering during spring/summer. Also water it well once a month this winter. Evergreens need this if winter is dry and I haven't seen any precipitation yet.

If you want to use something to ward of an existing infestation , then safers brand inseciticidal soap may help. Safe for use with vegetable crops etc..

RE: spit bugs on rosemary plants

Spittle bugs. The "spit" is a protective layer to keep them from being dried out. As mentioned, blast them with a hose, the spittle is washed off and they die quickly.

RE: spit bugs on rosemary plants

I planted 2 rosemary bushes and the one which gets less sun has spit bugs all over. The other one which gets really hot afternoon sun is fine. The one with out bugs may be in better soil, but they are only about 12 ft apart. I planted them thinking they wouldn't need much attention, but I am going to try to take better care of the buggy one this year to see if I can get it's defenses up. However, I think the heat/sunshine may make the difference.

RE: spit bugs on rosemary plants

I have the same problem in Las Vegas every year. I just hose the spitbugs off and that usually helps. The "cobwebby thing you are talking about I have on my creeping rosemary. I first thought they are spider mites but when I ran my hand through it I noticed that they are small caterpillers that mess up big patches of the plant. I picked up some vegetable insecticide and after I sacrificed a bunch of them to my fish sprayed the whole plant and that got rid of the little bastards

RE: spit bugs on rosemary plants

Just FYI, the "spit" the spittlebug larvae produce is really sap from the plant on which they're feeding. The little guys froth it up to make a shelter. The sticky, viscous properties of the foam is not mucous (protein based) but basically sugars (carbohydrates) from the sap. That's why it washes off so easily.
Isn't nature cool!

RE: spit bugs on rosemary plants

they gobbled up my roses while i was away on holiday, but otherwise, since i spend a lot of time wandering in my garden anyway, i pick each one out of his foamy shelter and SQUISH EM ALL!! :)
hope that helps

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