Have some spit in your lawn?

I was sitting in my back yard yesterday and noticed a few black things clumsily landing and crawling through the grass around me. I picked one up and noticed that they were two-lined spittlebugs, Prosapia bicinta (Hemiptera: Cercopidae).

This was a surprise to me because adult spittlebugs aren’t reported to be active until June. They should all be eggs or nymphs this time of year.

Spittlebugs are  interesting both in their appearance and life history. Adults are black, with orange horizontal stripes, and blood-red eyes (image below).

twolined spittlebug3-Castner(Image credit: J.L. Castner)

They’re called spittlebugs because the nymphs produce a foamy ‘spittle’ (left image below) around themselves that protects them from predation. This spittle could be mistaken for some fresh spit someone contributed to your lawn as they walked their dog by. If you’re confident enough that it’s not spit, wipe away the foam and you’ll find a nymph feeding on the grass blade (right image below). Spittle typically begins to show up in March as the nymphs begin to actively feed.

(Image credit: J.L. Castner)

These insects are occasionally important pests of warm season turfgrass as well as some ornamental plants, and can require control if they reach large enough populations. Most often, though, they are present in small, harmless numbers. They are preyed upon by several generalist predators like ants, carabid beetles, big-eyed bugs, and spiders. St. Augustinegrass and zoysiagrass are reportedly more resistant, but like many of you, my lawn is St. Augustine, and supports at least a small population. For more information on the biology and management of these insects, check out this EDIS publication or this useful (and inexpensive) book with information about many insects around your home.

There has been some concern about how this abnormally warm winter will affect insect populations and associated plant damage this spring. It’s hard to say, and every pest may respond differently. However, this could be a sign of things to come.


2016 Southeast Pest Management Conference

Struggling to control insects on your trees and shrubs? Is your lawn constantly getting damaged by insects? If so, come to this and learn how to deal with them.

Registration for the 2016 Southeast Pest Management Conference is open! Be sure to register for the event here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2016-southeast-pest-management-conference-registration-20968767147. It will be held Monday, May 2nd through Wednesday, May 4th in Gainesville, Fl.

Every year for the past 20, this conference has educated pest managers ranging from household arthropod pests to lawn and ornamental pests throughout the southeastern U.S. Attendees learn about the best and latest pest management tactics and receive continuing education units (CEUs). Also, registration is FREE for Florida residents. How can you turn that down?

Wasps or Butterflies? Seems easy enough

This week I found several insect larvae eating some river birch leaves along the greenway trail near my apartment. The question is, are these butterfly or wasp larvae? Most would call them caterpillars (butterfly larvae) but, in fact, they are sawfly larvae, which are wasp-like insects. Read more about them in my blog post on our lab’s website here: http://ecoipm.org/blog/.

Dusky birch sawfly larvae feeding on river birch

Dusky birch sawfly larvae feeding on river birch

Early Career Climate Forum kicks off new website

The Early Career Climate Forum (ECCF) is a place for young climate scientists to interact and communicate about climate science and make connections with other climate scientists around the world. It was founded in 2012 among several students attending a climate science workshop and has since developed into a larger, more sophisticated group of scientists who are interested in meeting and collaborating with other scientists within the field.

The mission of the ECCF is to serve as a place where young scientists around the world can come to share information, make connections, and learn about new opportunities in climate science.

Visit the website and become connected with other climate scientists around the world here: https://www.eccforum.org