Spittlebug survey

Are these insects the key to predicting how Xylella might spread across the country?

The spittlebug survey ran from 2019 to 2020 and is no longer regularly monitored for more about the project behind the survey please visit BRIGIT

Xylella fastidiosa is a devastating plant disease that is known to be transmitted by insects that feed on xylem, the tissue that transports water from roots to leaves.

Some of the most common insects known to do this are spittlebugs, otherwise known as froghoppers – in particular meadow spittlebug (Philaenus spumarius). This species is commonly found on UK garden plants and has been associated with spread of the disease in Italy.

We would like to remind citizen scientists that spittlebugs are innocent carriers of Xylella in certain countries outside the UK. They are not a pest so there is no need to remove them. There have been no confirmed reports of Xylella in this country, but the survey helped us to gather data to inform a response should the disease ever reach the UK.

Spittlebug survey

As part of our BRIGIT partnership we asked gardeners to record sightings of the bug. These sightings will be plotted on a map to show the distribution of froghoppers  and a pattern of how the disease might spread in the UK.

Spittle sightings, whether seen in a garden or the countryside, were submitted via an online iRecord survey.

More information on Spittlebugs


With your support, we can undertake valuable research into gardening pests and diseases.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.