|University of Kentucky Department of Entomology|
Mystery Bug Answers
Mystery Picture #51
This is a Twolined Spittlebug. The nymphs, or immature stages, of spittlebugs hide in a nest of "spit" where they can suck plant juices in relative safety. The foamy material, which is secreted from glands near the rear of the insects, keeps them from drying out and also is distasteful to predators who leave these little guys alone. Different species of spittlebugs attack different host plants and sometimes can cause a great deal of damage. The twolined spittlebug attacks redbud, holly, and the roots and stems of turf grasses.
These Calico Scale Insects are mobile only as juveniles when they crawl along the branches to the spot where they will spend the rest of their adult lives. These particular insects get their name from their black and white markings that resemble the pattern on a type of fabric, calico.
These are adult females attached to the branch in the photo above. Each one will produce thousands of eggs underneath her shell, then when she dies, the eggs will hatch into crawlers which will crawl along the tree trunk or disperse on the wind until they find a suitable place to settle down, literally for the rest of their lives. Once the females settle down, they insert their long, thin mouthparts, which are six to eight times longer than their bodies, into the plant and begin to suck out plant sap on which they feed. They lose their legs, secrete a waxy shell, and never move from there again.
This past spring, Kentucky experienced large numbers of calico scale on shade trees and ornamentals. You can read more about it in the Kentucky Pest News, 8 May 2000 .
This page is maintained by Pat Dillon, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky. Please send questions or suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org