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Brits Given Urgent Warning Over 'Harmful' Froth Spotted On Plants In UK Gardens

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Brits Given Urgent Warning Over 'Harmful' Froth Spotted On Plants In UK Gardens

Brits have been given an urgent warning over an unusual froth spotted in gardens during the summer months.

The strange substance, known as the spittle, is usually found clumped onto plant stems or in long grass.

Although the balls of foam may look innocuous, anyone who spots the froth is urged to report it as it is potentially harmful.

The foam is linked to the spread of a deadly plant disease which can harm native species, Yorkshire Live reports.

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The substance is produced by an insect called a spittlebug, who layers itself in a ball of froth for protection as it sucks on the sap from a plant for nutrition.

Experts are warning of a potentially deadly foam found in UK gardens. Credit: Pixabay
Experts are warning of a potentially deadly foam found in UK gardens. Credit: Pixabay

As a result, their babies, known as froghoppers, then hatch on a plant or in long grass with the leftover foam.

The insect is active from the end of May to the end of June, so it's peak season for sightings.

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Although the bugs don’t hurt humans, scientists fear the spittlebugs could spread a potentially deadly plant disease known as Xyella, which has been deemed one of the world's most dangerous pathogens by experts.

In recent years, the disease has devastated olive groves in Italy and if found in the UK, all plants within a 100m radius would need to be destroyed.

Not only that but it would also require flora and fauna in a 5km radius to those plants affected to go into a quarantine for up to five years afterwards for fear the disease could wipe out native UK plant species.

As the spittlebug is a potential carrier of the disease, experts have asked the public to keep their eyes peeled and report any sightings of the foam in a bid to stop any outbreaks.

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Pictured above is a spittlebug's offspring known as a froghopper. Credit: Pixabay
Pictured above is a spittlebug's offspring known as a froghopper. Credit: Pixabay

A spokesperson for the Spittlebug survey said: "Please let us know when you see either spittle, nymphs (juveniles) or adults of the xylem-feeding insects (spittlebugs / froghoppers and some leafhoppers) that have the potential to act as vectors of the bacteria.

"These records will help us build up a picture of where the bugs are found, what plants they feed on and how much they move around.

“This information will be essential for deciding how best to respond should the Xylella bacterium arrive in the UK."

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If you think you’ve spotted the froth, you can report a sighting here.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy / Alamy

Topics: UK News

Lisa McLoughlin
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