Cuckoo spit/spittlebug foam on crops is innocent. Please depart it alone.

I’m often delighted to see Eire’s Wildlife featured within the media — however a latest article revealed within the Gardening part of the RSVP Journal web site has me lower than thrilled.

Cuckoo Spit and Frog Hoppers - Spittle Bugs are not harmful
The nymph of the Widespread Frog Hopper creates Cuckoo Spit as a pure defence in opposition to desiccation and predation

The article in query sensationalises the connection between frog-hoppers/spittle bugs (their American title) and a bacterial plant illness referred to as Xylella fastidiosa. Sure, in areas the place Xylella happens, sap-sucking bugs like frog-hoppers usually develop into vectors by which the pathogen spreads to different close by crops, nevertheless, Xylella is NOT CAUSED by the insect, and the frothy spittle so widespread on crops all through the Irish countryside in early summer time IS NOT an indication of illness. In actual fact, it’s a completely regular a part of a wholesome Irish ecosystem.

Cuckoo Spit / Spittle / Foam is not harmful and is a natural part of a functioning Irish Ecosystem
Cuckoo spit on a plant within the backyard right here at IWHQ on the date of publication

We have now by no means had a confirmed instances of Xyllela right here in Eire, they usually have recorded none up to now within the UK both. For now not less than, it merely doesn’t happen right here.

The RSVP Journal article latches on to a official name for info from scientist within the UK, and twists it into one thing altogether extra sinister. All of the scientists are asking for is for the general public to submit data of cuckoo spit and grownup frog-hoppers, serving to them to map their distribution. That information will assist them make extra knowledgeable selections on how finest to reply IF Xylella ever does arrive.

Simply to be 100% clear right here: these scientists are not suggesting cuckoo spit is in any method dangerous, they’re not calling for anybody to regulate frog hoppers or eradicate cuckoo spit of their gardens or wherever else. They’re simply accumulating information to raised perceive their distribution.

To summarise:

  • Xylella fastidiosa has by no means been recorded in Eire
  • Frog Hoppers / Spittle Bugs are widespread, widespread native Irish bugs
  • They DO NOT trigger illness in crops (though the place Xylella is current they’ll unfold it)
  • Cuckoo Spit is NOT A SIGN OF DISEASE: it’s a regular a part of a wholesome, functioning Irish ecosystem
  • There isn’t a viable purpose to take away cuckoo spit from crops in your backyard

Discover out extra concerning the fascinating Widespread Frog Hopper right here. If you happen to’re taken with discovering out extra concerning the scenario surrounding Xylella, right here’s a complete overview of Xylella and frog-hoppers within the UK that’s properly offered and fact-based.

The hazards of poor reporting in a Biodiversity Disaster

No person is denying that Xylella is a critical illness, and has precipitated devastation in components of mainland Europe (significantly to Italian olive groves). Measures to regulate and limit the unfold of the micro organism that causes the illness are utterly warranted. What’s unwarranted is equivocal reporting that misrepresents the info, casting a innocent constituent of our native biodiversity because the villain in a contrived and appallingly inaccurate narrative.

Wildlife isn’t any stranger to being forged because the scapegoat for human-induced issues within the pure world, however amidst a biodiversity disaster, articles just like the RSVP one, that sensationalise threat, foster suspicion and demonise a local species, may be extremely damaging. We’ve been receiving emails and messages since this text went out from individuals asking how they’ll eradicate cuckoo spit from their backyard crops.

The reply, after all, is you don’t have to do something. Because the BBC Gardener’s World web site advises “It’s finest to depart the froghoppers to get on with being froghoppers.”

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