Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Parsley Peculiarity May 18, 2010

Filed under: bugs,herbs — greenwalks @ 8:23 pm
Tags: , ,

Please pardon my absence, May is my crazy month. Three family birthdays, Mother’s Day, the school auction, and a few more biggies tossed in there for good measure, all in the first 15 days of the month alone! I am still recovering.

Of course, all of this means that I usually start the gardening season way behind. I finally got around to weeding and readying the small veggie patches and while I was furiously ripping stuff out, I accidentally knocked the central stem out of my biggest overwintered parsley plant. So, I brought it in for a lazy-gal’s bouquet.

Parsley "bouquet"

It was in the house for a day or so before I noticed this:

Spittlebug foam on parsley

Spittlebug! Ew. Well, not ew exactly, since I don’t think I’ve ever seen what’s inside all that foam. There are quite a few of these guys out there at the moment – they mostly seem to hang out on the lavender stems, but apparently parsley is good too.

Spittlebugs lay their eggs in the fall, the eggs overwinter on stems and leaves, then the nymphs hatch out in the spring and produce their characteristic protective foam as they feed on plant stems. In the home garden, they are apparently more unsightly than truly problematic, but they can cause serious damage to agricultural crops if infestation is heavy. If you don’t like yours, just give them a blast with the hose and it should at least knock the foam off, if not the bugs. And when they are done eating and transform into leafhopper-looking bugs, the foam dries up and we can forget about them again until next spring.

What is the weirdest critter that ever came into your house with something from the garden?


12 Responses to “Parsley Peculiarity”

  1. Racquel Says:

    Ewww! Thanks for educating me about this pest, I’ll keep an eye out for that foam now. I haven’t brought anything weird into the house lately. But when I cut some Peonies for a bouquet last week I forgot to shake & rinse the blossoms out in the sink. Some large ants hopped a ride into the house. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  2. Megan Says:

    I’ve got a pot of mint that is topped off by those bugs on every stem. This is one of those things that makes it weird for me to eat things from the garden. What if i’m eating bug eggs? (we probably do it all the time, huh?)

  3. I don’t know if it’s the weirdest but definitely the grossest…I’ve brought slugs in on the newspaper bag. I think the paper gets tossed on the steps early as they are starting their journey back to daytime cover and they think under the plastic bag is a great place to hang out. Gross. I just missed one with my fingers. You’d thing I would remember to look now that it’s happened twice.

    As for the spittle bugs I finally investigated last weekend. It’s a cute little green and cream thing, tiny…amazing that something that small can create all that foam!

  4. Grace Says:

    Yeah, Karen, except that the leaf-hopper stage is one of equal devastation for some plants. Dang, evil creatures. I don’t mind the Spittle on later blooming plants but I know they’ll recover but when they suck dry the stems of spring bloomers that would otherwise be a riot of color, I protest. Water doesn’t do a dang thing except raise false hopes. In desperation, I’ll dive in and vanquish the critter from its foamy home with a squish but sometimes there are four, five or more bugs within that home and they know how to avoid death, slithering away into hiding. Evil creatures. If I wasn’t aware of the joys of gardening and that they far out weigh the damage of the creepy-crawlies, I would probably give up and quit gardening altogether. But there’s something to be said for tenacity, isn’t there? ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Amanda Says:

    My roses are invariably full of earwigs!

  6. Not especially odd, but my grandson found an inchworm on a leaf and brought it all inside to place on the dining room table. A few minutes later his mom came strolling by and popped the leaf and its occupant into her mouth. When Tyrone asked “where is my inchworm?”, Hillary came back with “oh, I guess I must have eaten it”.

    I read a statistic somewhere about the amount of insect life we normally ingest, unknowingly, in a year. It ran into pounds. Oh well, they are supposedly a great source of protein.

  7. Aerie-el Says:

    At first I thought they could be large peppercorns, but straight from the garden that way? No, they were aphids on nasturtiums.
    And I found a very large, flattened moth in a container of organic spring mix lettuce one time. That was appetizing.

  8. I always thought the spittlebugs were an eyesore, but harmless. Now I won’t treat them so benignly.

    I guess I’m lucky: the worst thing I ever brought in from the garden was a moth in some briefs I donned straight from the clothesline. Very ticklish!

  9. Little tiny green bug…I always look before I squish them! May is crazy here too…it would be even more so if it would quite raining and I could actually get outside! Kim

  10. Matron Says:

    For some reason or other, here in the UK that is known as ‘cuckoo spit’. go figure! I also have some overwintered parsley. It is a biennial plant just like parsnips and it will go to seed the second year, so make the most of those lovely leaves. My favourite way to use parsley is to buy a fish fillet and make a parsley sauce. Serve with boiled new potatoes.

  11. Daniel Mount Says:

    Lazy gal bouquets are my favorite. There is always something breaking off or flopping these rainy days. Our house is cluttered with wine bottles with one peony, one iris, a bit of dames rocket. I guess it is better than letting the slugs get it.

  12. Karen Harrison Says:

    I have a HUGE infestation of spittlebugs on my rosemary this year. I have a 70+foot planter filled with it and all plants are covered with them. I have usually just sprayed them off with water in the past, but this year they are staying (3 months+) and when I spray them off there are thousands that fly off – any other ideas (non-toxic preferred) on how to erradicate them or at least tone down the numbers? I live in So Calif, Inland Empire and we have had a mild summer for us.

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