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Are these insects the key to predicting how Xylella might spread across the country?
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.
As part of our ongoing study 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 is helping us to gather data to inform a response should the disease ever reach the UK.
As part of our BRIGIT partnership we are asking 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.
Submit your spittle sightings, whether seen in a garden or the countryside, via the online iRecord survey. (You will need to register on the website to be able to submit a record.)
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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.