How to Get Rid of Two-Lined Spittlebug: Easy & Effective Solutions

Dealing with pesky two-lined spittlebugs in your garden can be a frustrating task. These small, wedge-shaped insects with distinct red eyes and legs are known scientifically as Prosapia bicincta. They feed on a variety of plants, using their mouthparts to pierce stems or leaves and extract the juices within. Some of their favorite targets include holly bushes and centipedegrass, potentially causing damage to your plants and lawn.

In order to effectively get rid of two-lined spittlebugs, understanding their lifecycle and habits is essential. The nymphs, or immature spittlebugs, are often found in warm-season turfgrasses but can also wreak havoc on cool-season grasses. They produce a spittle-like foam to protect their tender bodies from predators and dry conditions. Adult spittlebugs, on the other hand, typically feed on various ornamentals in the garden.

Armed with the right knowledge and strategies, you can successfully tackle these bothersome pests and protect your plants from potential damage. In this article, we will discuss various methods, tools, and tips to help you effectively eliminate two-lined spittlebugs from your garden and lawn.

Understanding the Two-Lined Spittlebug

Life Cycle

The life cycle of the two-lined spittlebug includes:

  • Egg
  • Nymph
  • Adult

They complete their life cycle within one year1.

Physical Characteristics

Two-lined spittlebugs are identifiable by their:

  • Wedge-shaped bodies
  • Dark brown to black color
  • Distinct red eyes
  • Red or orange lines across wings2

Additionally, their size is around 0.38 inches long3.

Feeding Habits

The two-lined spittlebug isn’t picky when it comes to feeding, but some preferences include:

  • Warm-season turfgrasses4
  • Cool-season grasses5
  • Holly bushes6
  • Centipedegrass7

They pierce plant stems or leaves and suck out juices, causing damage8.

Comparison of Two-Lined Spittlebug Characteristics:

Characteristic Description
Life Cycle Complete within one year9
Color Dark brown to black10
Size 0.38 inches long11
Feeding Preferences Turfgrasses, holly bushes, centipedegrass12

Identifying Two-Lined Spittlebug Damage

Signs of Infestation

Two-lined spittlebugs are known for leaving behind a frothy, white foam on grass blades and plant stems. This foam is created by the nymphs to protect themselves from predators and dehydration. To identify a spittlebug infestation, look for:

  • Small, white, frothy masses on your lawn and plants
  • Yellowing and browning of grass blades
  • The presence of dark brown, wedge-shaped adult spittlebugs with distinct red eyes and legs

If you notice these signs, you may be dealing with a two-lined spittlebug infestation. Keep your lawn well-maintained, mow regularly, and remove excess thatch and debris to help minimize the risk of infestation.

Affected Plants

Two-lined spittlebugs can damage various types of plants, both turfgrass, and ornamentals. Some of the most commonly affected plants are:

  • Centipedegrass
  • St. Augustinegrass
  • Zoysiagrass
  • Bermudagrass
  • Asters

Other susceptible plants include hollies, morning glories, junipers, and pine trees. Maintaining the health of these host plants is crucial for the prevention of spittlebug infestations. Proper watering, mowing, and removal of debris can contribute to a healthier lawn and landscape, making it more resistant to these pests.

You can also consider using organic methods, like introducing beneficial insects (e.g. ladybugs) to help control the spittlebug population. Keep in mind that the main goal is to minimize the harm caused by the spittlebugs without harming your lawn’s ecosystem.

Preventing and Controlling Spittlebug Infestations

Cultural Practices

To prevent spittlebug infestations, focus on maintaining a healthy turf:

  • Avoid thatch buildup by mowing and irrigating the grass regularly
  • Reduce humidity and hiding spots by removing garden debris and weeds
  • Monitor temperatures, as spittlebugs prefer warmer, more humid conditions
  • Keep a close eye on centipedegrass, as it is a spittlebug’s favorite turf

Biological Control

Introducing natural predators can help keep spittlebug populations in check:

  • Encourage the presence of ladybird beetles, lacewings, and spiders in your garden
  • Attract birds by installing birdhouses and feeders close to infested areas

Chemical Control

Chemical treatments should be used as a last resort in case of severe infestations. Here’s a comparison of common chemical options:

Chemical Pros Cons
Bifenthrin Effective against spittlebugs Non-selective; can harm beneficial insects
Carbaryl Provides good control Harmful to pollinators and mammals; potential environmental impact
Neem oil Organic option; less harmful to beneficials Requires frequent application; less effective against severe infestations; slow acting
Lambda-cyhalothrin Fast acting; broad spectrum Highly toxic to bees, fish, and aquatic invertebrates

Remember to:

  • Apply the pesticide only after carefully reading the label and following the instructions
  • Always target adults and eggs at the same time for maximum effect
  • Avoid spraying on hot days or when plants are in bloom to minimize harm to beneficial insects and pollinators
  • Keep pets and children away from treated areas until the pesticide has dried and it is safe to return

By combining these cultural, biological, and chemical strategies, you can effectively prevent and control two-lined spittlebug infestations in your garden.

Footnotes

  1. source

  2. source

  3. source

  4. source

  5. source

  6. source

  7. source

  8. source

  9. source

  10. source

  11. source

  12. source

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Two Lined Spittlebug

 

Leafhopper ID
July 13, 2009
Lots of these on our Red Bud tree recently (July). Black body with red underside, red line and one yellow line across thorax; wings black with 2 yellow-orange stripes across them. Approx. 1 cm. length. Antennae inconspicuous.
Mary
Central IL

Two Lined Spittlebug
Two Lined Spittlebug

Dear Mary,
This is a Two Lined Spittlebug, Prosapia bicincta.  Spittlebugs are related to Leafhoppers and share many similarities since they are in the same suborder of Free Living Hemipterans, but they have their own family Cercopidae.  The immature Spittlebugs live in a mass of foam that resembles spittle.  BugGuide indicates that the damage done to plants is mild and states:  “In the immature (nymph) stage (surrounded by the ‘spittle’ foam which protects them, and which they produce from juices they suck from the plant) they feed on centipedegrass, bermudagrass and other grasses, including occasionally corn. Adults feed on hollies – they feed on the underside of leaves, and damage shows up as pale mottling not usually visible from above.

Letter 2 – Two Lined Spittlebug

 

Found this bug in my florida house
January 9, 2010
Found this is the house. What bug is this? Black with Red/organge striped wings.
thanks for help
New port richey fl

Two Lined Spittlebug
Two Lined Spittlebug

This is a Two Lined Spittlebug, Prosapia bicincta, a common garden insect that feeds on grasses and holly.  It will not damage your home and is not dangerous to humans or pets.  It probably accidentally came indoors from the yard.

Letter 3 – Two Lined Spittlebug

 

Beneficial or Pest?
Hi,
I live in Round Rock, TX. Could you please tell me what this bug is? I love beneficials and just cannot seem to find a picture of it on the internet. I thought it might be some kind of Milkbug at first but, it is on everything in my garden from tomato to cucumber to melon to basil plants. It does not seem to be chewing or sucking on the leaves so I am thinking maybe it is a beneficial. Help! Thanks,
Jeffrey Bryant

Hi Jefffrey,
This is a Two Lined Spittlebug, Prosapia bicincta. The immature insects form a mass of foamy spittle that serves as a protection while the insect feeds by sucking the juices from plants. Your photo shows the winged adult. According to BugGuide: “In the immature (nymph) stage (surrounded by the “spittle” foam which protects them, and which they produce from juices they suck from the plant) they feed on centipedegrass, bermudagrass and other grasses, including occasionally corn. Adults feed on hollies – they feed on the underside of leaves, and damage shows up as pale mottling not usually visible from above.”

Letter 4 – Two Lined Spittlebug

 

Subject: freak bug
Location: Berkeley Springs, WV
July 22, 2016 4:43 pm
Spotted this guy on a hike in West Virginia… can’t tell if it’s a beetle or maybe something emerging from casing…. help?
Signature: DJ

Two Lined Spittlebug
Two Lined Spittlebug

Dear DJ,
This Two Lined Spittlebug,
Prosapia bicincta, is a free living Hemipteran, not a Beetle.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

54 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Two-Lined Spittlebug: Easy & Effective Solutions”

  1. These guys bite! I’ve been getting nibbled on by them in the evenings as I mow my lawn. Bite is similar to a horsefly, but only half as painful. Still not fun getting snacked on by them.

    Reply
      • One landed on my eyelid. As I was trying to remove it, it must have secreted something. My eye, eyelid and under eye area burn. There is also a smell. I used a wet, cool compress to flush my eye, but after several hours my eyelid and under eye area are very painful. It is not red or swollen. How long will this last?

        Reply
    • I’m only 11. I was in my kitchen and I was getting some water when I saw that bug on top of the stove. I didn’t get a good glimpse because I immediately grabbed the raid and killed it. I absolutely hate bugs. I had no idea what it was. As I was killing it another one flew onto my leg and scared the heck out of me. I flicked it off and ran into my room. It didn’t bite me though. I’m not sure if it’s the same bug but i did get a glimpse. All I know is that it had a orange stripe and was black. There were so many in to kitchen. My grandfather was asleep when I went out there and he had the door wide open!! I think that’s the problem. But I had to look this up because I was freaked out. Any tips on how to get rid of them??

      Reply
  2. These little guys have plagued my yard within the last week and fly inside every time my son opens the door (which seems like every 30 seconds)… I’ve been moving bugs outside nonstop.

    Southeast Georiga…

    Reply
    • Weird, i live in east cobb and we call them halloween bugs. Ive never had one bite me. I handle them all the time I guess I’m lucky haha

      Reply
  3. These little guys have plagued my yard within the last week and fly inside every time my son opens the door (which seems like every 30 seconds)… I’ve been moving bugs outside nonstop.

    Southeast Georiga…

    Reply
  4. I just mowed the lawn and saw hundreds, if not thousands of these things fly up. Got stung, swatted a bunch away. How do I get rid of these things?

    Reply
    • When you see the white foamy looking spit on your plans you can simply hose them away with water but for best result use a spray bottle with a little liquid detergent soap, it won’t harm your plants but will kill them.

      Reply
  5. I have been seeing a lot of these bugs in my yard lately. Sometime the come in on my dog. They are very quick and are hard to get rid of. Are they harmfull to my dog? Will the bite him? I read in an earlier post that they do bite humans. When will they go away and what should I do to make them go away?

    Reply
  6. I have one in my kitchen ): im scared. I saw it while helping my husband cook and found this website about this bug read outloud to my husband he tried attacking it with his shoe haha. But no. Made us wonder cause i woke up with two bites on the side of my face. And weve never seen that bug before. Ughh.. Creeppppyyyyyy !

    Reply
  7. Believe or not but I have an spittle bug infestation problem and it’s not in the garden, it’s on me !! These things are every there in my house on my pets , every where!! Has anyone heard of such a thing? And how do you get rid of them inside? And why suddenly are there thousands of them? Never seen or heard of them before.

    Reply
  8. The two-lined spittle bug bites! Most people tell me they don’t. But these bugs seem to target me. If I see one, it will be on me right away. The bites itch and hurt for about 10 days. These bugs are a real problem if you become one of their targets.

    Reply
  9. If you find unexplained bites on you, tear apart your bedding and look for those critters: I’ve known a BUNCH of people start getting bites, and found one of those in their bedding. Bites quite similar to bedbugs.

    Reply
  10. I have never in my life been bitten by these, and I have been around them all my life. When I was a child I played with them routinely. They’re harmless. If you’re getting bitten in bed at night, I guarantee you these aren’t the culprit. They’re diurnal, only active during the day, and they only feed on plants, not blood. If they are getting on you or your pets, it’s only because you walked past them in the grass, and they happened to land on you when they jumped.

    Check your mattress and under it for bedbugs, or it’s also possible you have mosquitoes in the house.

    Reply
    • Funny that you say this… I have had these things land on me thousands of time throughout my life and have never been bitten. (I live in middle Georgia.) But the reason I even found this site was because tonight, I was bit! I came inside from watering plants and didn’t even notice it was on me until I felt the sudden pain. Looked down and there it was. I was totally shocked but at the same time, I knew it was definitely the spittle bug that bit me.

      Reply
  11. I have never in my life been bitten by these, and I have been around them all my life. When I was a child I played with them routinely. They’re harmless. If you’re getting bitten in bed at night, I guarantee you these aren’t the culprit. They’re diurnal, only active during the day, and they only feed on plants, not blood. If they are getting on you or your pets, it’s only because you walked past them in the grass, and they happened to land on you when they jumped.

    Check your mattress and under it for bedbugs, or it’s also possible you have mosquitoes in the house.

    Reply
  12. I went canoeing with a couple friends. I needed the bathroom really bad so I jumped into some high grasses. When I was done doing my business I notices the grass all around me covered in foam. I washed one of these bugs out of my hair later on. I have a bite on my left butt cheek. It hurts and itches like crazy. I can’t even sit down. Is it the bite or do I have poison ivy?

    Reply
  13. One of these little guys flew into my house tonight when I went out to water my plants. I tried to catch it and put it back outside, but they’re quick little boogers. How long do they usually live and do I need to worry about it laying eggs on or killing my house plants?

    Reply
    • We expect the life span of an adult Two Lined Spittlebug is about a month. If your nightmare scenario does occur, you can easily locate the nymphs by the spittle they produce on plants, but their host plants are various grasses. According to BugGuide: “In the immature (nymph) stage (surrounded by the ‘spittle’ foam which protects them, and which they produce from juices they suck from the plant) they feed on centipedegrass, bermudagrass and other grasses, including occasionally corn.”

      Reply
  14. Is it possible for an infant to have more a reaction to these bug then an adult? My 8 month old keeps getting bit by them and every time I take it off her she get red and swollen at the site.

    Reply
  15. Just wondering why they sre found I’m my bedroom…like maybe 1 a day, but saw 3 dead ones tonight. ..two on my bed. needless to say, I have stripped my bed and I’m going to wash everything that I can get in the washing machine. is it possible for them for them to be growing in my bedroom?

    Reply
  16. I didn’t even know what these were until like five minutes ago and now I cannot stop feeling itchy. I never see more than one at a time in my room, but whenever I kill one, I find one more. And by find, I mean I hear it flying around hitting the windows. I live in South Georgia, but I am originally from Seattle, Washington. I also never see them during the day, always at night. I am wondering if that’s what all these bug bites on my body are from. What can I spray around my room/ house to get rid of them? Did I mention that I am TERRIFIED of bugs? HELLLLP!

    Reply
  17. So ….I will go ahead and add to this little discuss, i am a landscaper and when I’m mowing these things jump on me at a contant rate here in Georgia. I will say they do bite but only after being left to do so. I’ve had hundreds on my legs before. I just give them a swat usually works….or a flick for the pesky ones.

    Reply
  18. We have these is our yard. Our grass is cut to 1″ and we keep it free of debris, but they are every where. They flock to my dog and tear him up every time we go outside. He was breaking out in hives, and had hair falling out where ever they bit. He ended up being allergic to them. It was a HUGE vet bill.

    We just sprayed our yard with Cutter Backyard, so hopefully that takes care of it.

    Reply
  19. We have these is our yard. Our grass is cut to 1″ and we keep it free of debris, but they are every where. They flock to my dog and tear him up every time we go outside. He was breaking out in hives, and had hair falling out where ever they bit. He ended up being allergic to them. It was a HUGE vet bill.

    We just sprayed our yard with Cutter Backyard, so hopefully that takes care of it.

    Reply
  20. I have an infestation of them in my centipede grass . Didn’t realize they do bite until this year. They itch and swell up on me at the spots where bitten.

    Live in upper NE Georgia. We’ve had an over abundance of rain this year and all the horrific bugs are thriving….fleas, ticks and these spittlebugs. Cats seem to be affected also…and nothing seems to work. Trying diatomaceous powder and those plug in detourent things. Trying to save the bees and other useful bugs.

    Reply
  21. I have an infestation of them in my centipede grass . Didn’t realize they do bite until this year. They itch and swell up on me at the spots where bitten.

    Live in upper NE Georgia. We’ve had an over abundance of rain this year and all the horrific bugs are thriving….fleas, ticks and these spittlebugs. Cats seem to be affected also…and nothing seems to work. Trying diatomaceous powder and those plug in detourent things. Trying to save the bees and other useful bugs.

    Reply
  22. For anyone wondering about the potential for bites or disbelieve it…YES,THEY WILL BITE!!
    Pretty sure my bite happened only because I accidentally pinned the little [bleeeeeep] between my body and my underarm while closing the back door. Annnd of course the bug bit the. most. tender. area of an underarm.
    Omg! The bite pain was instantly
    an intense, searing pain- for 15 to 20 seconds- before fading as quickly as it began.
    Found a spittlebug at the back door- the only insect around.
    So yes, they bite.
    It can really HURT!!

    Reply
    • I got bit in the pool yesterday. Im allergic to everything so it was like a small bee sting. I was AMAZED!!! I have the bastard in a jar on the counter.

      Reply
  23. For anyone wondering about the potential for bites or disbelieve it…YES,THEY WILL BITE!!
    Pretty sure my bite happened only because I accidentally pinned the little [bleeeeeep] between my body and my underarm while closing the back door. Annnd of course the bug bit the. most. tender. area of an underarm.
    Omg! The bite pain was instantly
    an intense, searing pain- for 15 to 20 seconds- before fading as quickly as it began.
    Found a spittlebug at the back door- the only insect around.
    So yes, they bite.
    It can really HURT!!

    Reply
  24. Every time a take my dog out one of them hops on his fur and it’s hard to get off. Does anyone know if it’s harmful to dogs in anyway?

    Reply
  25. One definitely bit my foot. The bite turned into a bump and welts and normally that only happens with mosquitoes (curtesy of my allergies) I’m thinking I may need a new allergy test 😢

    Reply

Leave a Comment