Spittlebugs ... cute or not cute?

Allow us to introduce you to the humble spittlebug, the juvenile form of the insect known as a froghopper. Spittlebugs are named, rather creatively, after the bubble nests they whip up out of a fluid they secrete from their anus and abdominal glands. These spit-like nests keep the young bugs moist and protected from predators. Pretty adorable, right?

(Image: Katja Schulz/CC by 2.0)
But spittlebugs have a dark side. As adults, the bugs can carry the deadly plant disease Xylella, which is responsible for the deaths of over a million ancient olive trees in Italy. While Xylella has yet to enter the United Kingdom, British scientists have asked citizens to help track the frothy baby bugs in the event the disease does crop up, which you can read more about here. All of this is to say that we at Atlas Obscura require your help in solving one final mystery:

Are spittlebugs cute, or not cute?

  • Cute!
  • Not cute!

0 voters

If you’re still undecided, here are some more pics of the wee buggers to help you out.

(Image: Jomegat/CC by 3.0)
(Image: Katja Schulz/CC by 2.0)
(Image: Claire Harkin/Used with Permission)

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I’ll have to read up on these. I have seen the insect vector of this before in the uk but I never knew that they carried diseases for our native trees.

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Actual ecological ramifications of these creatures aside, they’ve got a cute little look! I’d also offer some alternate names: Gurgle Bois, Bubble Bath Babies, or Young Foamies. I welcome further suggestions.

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You could work as an namer in a plushies toy factory.

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Burble Mites.

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Not cute! They muck up my rosemary bush with white blobs. Though on the weekend I watched a mama verdin (a tiny yellow-headed gray bird) feed her two voracious yet adorably fluffy offspring some spittle bugs that were on one of my Russian sage plants. Now THAT was cute.

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Funny, maybe even cute name, but my vote is for ‘not cute’. If trees could talk, I suppose they would say the same thing. :laughing: Interesting read though, some new knowledge for today.

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You forgot the “Meh… maybe just weird” option Eric.

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I will only accept enthusiastic and definite opinions when it comes to these Fancy Frothers.

2 Likes