How to Get Rid of Spittlebugs in the Garden

5 useful ways of dealing with spittlebugs and prevention methods.
Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
Reviewed By
Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: August 20, 2023
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Most of us have seen what looks like a ball of foamy spittle on plants in our gardens or even on weeds in a field. These unsightly balls of foamy material are created by spittlebugs. While spittlebugs don’t do a lot of damage to plants in your garden, they do make a mess on the stems and leaves of your vegetables and flowers. Many people just don’t want to have to clean up after these messy little insects if they don’t need to, so they start questioning how to get rid of spittlebugs.

Spittlebugs that are present in large numbers can make plants wilt and look a bit less-than-ideal, but this is not that common. Caring for any kind of plants in your garden is easier if you are not struggling against spittlebugs making a mess. If you are wondering how to get rid of spittlebugs on plants, you are not alone.

What Are Spittlebugs?

Spittlebugs are a tiny insect that feeds on plants. They release a spittle-like substance as they feed so that they are protected while they are eating. This solution comes from their backs, and it is resilient enough to withstand temperature extremes as well as moisture. Many homeowners or gardeners never see the actual spittlebugs and only know that they are present in their yards due to the spittle balls clinging to their plants.

While these insects are not usually that harmful to plants in your garden or your yard, they can make quite a big mess with their spittle balls. They are also a nuisance if you grow more delicate plants, and you might be wondering how to get rid of spittlebugs on rosemary or how to get rid of spittlebugs on lavender to prevent these more fragile plants from being damaged.

Homeowners are often interested in learning how to get rid of spittlebugs on potted plants and how to get rid of spittlebugs in their lawns as well. Spittlebugs are not particular about where they decide to roost, and they will be more than happy to take up residence on many different kinds of plants.

How to Get Rid of Spittlebugs in the Garden
Spittlebugs are small insects that can be usually distinguished by the spittle-like substance that is released from their backs.


The spittle that these insects create is secreted from their backs. It is really astonishing to see how much spittle even a small number of these insects can create since they are so tiny. The spittle balls that these insects can create will often be about the size of a dime or a quarter. If there are many bugs feeding on a plant, the spittle balls they form might be twice this size.

This spittle helps to protect spittlebugs from predators and from heat and cold. It also helps keep them moist as they are feeding. This spittle is hard to get rid of since it is quite sticky, and you might have to wash your plants or even use a towel to get rid of spittlebug balls.

Signs of Damage

Spittlebugs do not usually cause much damage to plants, but if you are dealing with a large number of these pests in your yard, you might see droopy plants, browning leaves, or just large numbers of spittle balls stuck all over your plants. You will need to be sure that you are not linking the damage in your yard incorrectly with spittlebugs. Sometimes aphids and other pests might actually be the real culprit for plant damage and not the spittlebugs that you are seeing from time to time.

How to Get Rid of Spittlebugs

Remove them manually by hose or hand

This is one of the most surefire ways to get rid of spittlebugs, but it is time-intensive. A good garden hose is all you need to deal with spittlebugs in your yard, along with some patience. You can use the hose to remove the bugs as well as their spittle mess, but you might need to complete this process many times a day at first. Make sure as well that you are not overwatering your plants while you are trying to get rid of your spittlebug invaders.

Repellent spray

One of the key benefits to using repellent sprays to deal with your spittlebug problem is that you might also be using products that are some of the best pet-safe ant killers around. Ants are also a nuisance pest, and they are unwelcome in gardens, yards, and homes, just like spittlebugs. When using a repellent spray, be sure that you check to see if it is pet safe and also ensure that you wear gloves and a mask when using it. You will want to allow the repellent spray to rest on the affected plants for about a half hour before you allow pets or children back in the yard.

If you are struggling against other invading pests like mosquitos, this might be one of your best opportunities to get rid of mosquitos at the same time. Many repellent sprays are ideal for deterring a wide array of different insects with ease, and they are often just as effective as the classic bug zapper. You can also pair this kind of solution with the best electric fly swatters to attend to flying insects along with your spittlebug and any problem.

How to Get Rid of Spittlebugs in the Garden

Keep your garden weed-free

Removing weeds is a good way to stay on top of your spittlebug issue as well. Weeds are one of their favorite snacks, and they love tall and leggy weeds the most. If you have dandelions, Queen Anne’s Lace, or other tall weeds in your yard, these will bring spittle bugs into your yard in droves. Make sure to keep weeds under control to maintain a spittlebug-free yard.

Do a thorough clean-up

Cleaning up leaf piles, debris, and other cool and sheltered havens for insects is always a good idea as well. These kinds of messes can attract all kinds of pests along with unwanted spittlebugs. You will have better luck keeping your garden and yard pest-free if you keep the yard clear of all debris and plant messes that have not been cleaned up.


Insecticides are not always the first choice for property owners due to the risk to children, pets, and wildlife, but sometimes this is your best bet. Insecticides can be really ideal if you are dealing with lots of insect invaders besides spittlebugs and you want to get rid of all of these nuisance creatures at once. Just be sure when using insecticides that you keep pets and children out of the yard until the insecticide has been allowed to dry on the plants that have been treated with it.

You can also make your own insecticide out of garlic, hot peppers, water, and liquid dish soap. This is often the ideal way to deal with various insects in your garden since you will want to eat the affected plants down the road. However, if you don’t want to mess with the DIY option, there are always great insecticides available for sale.

Prevention Measures

There are some key strategies that you can use to make sure that spittlebugs stay out of your yard. Make sure that you keep plant debris like fallen leaves and compost cleaned up and away from lawns and garden areas. Fallen twigs will need to be picked up as they serve as egg-laying sites.

Make sure that your yard does not have standing water which will bring lots of pests like mosquitos into your yard along with spittlebugs. You will also need to keep up with your prevention/insecticide efforts every month to be sure that you are keeping spittlebugs at bay all year long.


How to get rid of spittlebugs naturally?

Making your own insecticide is actually really easy. There are various recipes, many of them using garlic, peppers, and dish soap mixed in water. You might need to try a few different versions of these sprays to find the one that works best for your needs. The other way to get rid of spittlebugs naturally is to wash them off your plants when you see signs of their spittle balls.

Do they feed on rosemary?

How to Get Rid of Spittlebugs in the Garden
Spittlebugs are attracted by the plant’s aroma, so they tend to like rosemary.

Spittlebugs are drawn to plants that have flavorful sap. They love aromatic plants of various kinds, and herbs are near the top of their list. They also like annual beans, junipers, strawberries, and lavender. If you have any of these plants in your yard, you will need to keep an eye out for spittlebugs each season.

Final Thoughts

Spittlebugs don’t have to make a mess all over your yard each year. Make sure to keep their egg-laying locations cleaned up, and be sure that you are not allowing standing water to remain in your yard. You can remove these little pests with a good garden hose and some patience, or you can use natural insecticides to keep them out of your garden. While annoying and messy, these little pests will not usually harm your plants enough that you will need to be concerned about plant damage. We hope that our guide helped you understand how to get rid of spittlebugs.

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