Fighting foam cicadas - remedies for Aphrophoridae

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Fighting foam cicadas - remedies for Aphrophoridae: cicadas

Anyone traveling in riparian forests or waters in June may experience a sudden dripping wet under a tree, even though it does not rain at all. The phenomenon is caused by small insects that feed on the plant juices. The larvae of foamy cicadas stalk grasses or the shoots of trees and feed on their juices. And like some other parasites, Aphrophoridae can occasionally transmit diseases as well. In addition, harmful fungi sometimes invade the infected plants through the wounds.

Short profile

  • Latin name: Aphrophoridae
  • belong to the family Cercopoidae within the Rundkopfzikaden
  • mostly inconspicuous brownish to black colored
  • elongated or wide-oval physique
  • one to two thorns on the hind legs
  • two point eyes and a pair of compound eyes
  • bristle-shaped probes
  • full-blown foam cicadas can fly and jump very well


Foamy cicadas, like all cicadas, have a proboscis through which they absorb their food. They feed on plant juices and are not very picky about their host plants. The foam cicadas sting certain parts of the plant and absorb the ascending juice as through a straw. While most types of foamy cicadas mainly attack grasses, rushes and herbaceous plants, the genus Aphrophora also sucks on woody plants.

Reproduction and development

After mating, the female foamy cicadas lay their eggs in the soil or in the tissue of the host plant. From this, the larvae develop through various stages to the adult insect. Since the small animals feed on the rising sap, which has only a very low nutritional value, a high throughput is necessary. Therefore, large amounts of excess fluid are usually excreted again. In foamy cicada larvae, this protein-containing liquid is mixed with air bubbles from the respiratory cavity. So they produce whole foam nests on the plant. The foam, so-called cuckoo saliva or witches spit, on the one hand serves as a protection against enemies, on the other hand it maintains the necessary humidity and temperature for the further development of the larvae. However, it is not true saliva, the vesicular secretions are excreted by the larvae on the anus. This foam is neither poisonous nor harms the plant in any way.
By the way: All male and partially also the female Schaumzikaden are able to produce with special drum organs on their abdomen a rhythmic singing, the typical chirping of the cicadas.

harmful effect

Central European Aphrophoridae are not really pests. The rather coarse puncture wounds lead in many plants only to a callus formation. Callus is the beaded tissue that forms on the suction scars. Depending on the amount of cicadas and the place where the scars form, the susceptibility to breakage of the branches increases. This is particularly dangerous in larger trees such as the pasture. With extremely dense oviposition it can also come to the withering of the shoots. In addition, the penetration of harmful fungi is favored. In rare cases, it is possible that the Schaumzikaden transmit while sucking pathogens. Identification features for infestation with foamy cicadas are:
  • Foam nest on the infected plant (from May or June)
  • so-called "weeping willows": here the infestation is so great that the sap drops out of the pasture
  • chirping songs reminiscent of crickets
  • When the shoots are touched, the startled animals fly away in droves
  • Buds on plants die off and become brown (bud tan)
  • Callus formation on woody shoots
  • silvery-white dots on the leaves
Tip: If shoots or buds die from infestation with foamy cicadas, pathogens or fungi have usually invaded the plant. Here, action must be taken as early as possible and all shoots cut back to healthy wood. Dispose of waste in household waste - and never in organic waste or compost.



Cicadas such as the foam cicada are actually an indicator of an intact ecosystem and do not necessarily have to be combated. Only from a population that occurs in large numbers, the foamy cicadas are annoying, as they not only crawl around on the plants, but also vocal songs sing. In addition, there is a risk of infection with pathogens that creep through the wounds in the plant and can kill the plant. A very strong infestation sometimes causes the shoots (due to fluid loss) to wither. In these cases, action must be taken.
1. Remove larvae
The foam containing the larvae of the foamy cicadas can simply be rinsed off with the hard jet from a garden hose. This measure makes it difficult for the larvae to survive.In the case of roses and perennials, meadow foxthe cicadas are usually at work. They do not necessarily harm, but are an optical problem. If herbs or strawberries are attacked, the larvae can be gently rinsed off, so as not to injure the plants and fruits. This process should be repeated several times to truly flush all larvae from the plant.
Tip: The foam and the cicada larvae are neither poisonous, nor do they represent any other health problem for humans in any way.
2. Promote predators
Depending on the type of the Schaumzikade and their body size, the small animals usually remain undetected for a long time. Those who want to fight the airworthy, adult foamy cicadas, should be prepared for a protracted, but not really difficult fight. Aphrophoridae have a whole range of natural predators. These should be targeted in the garden to attract and promote. However, beneficial organisms do not find suitable living conditions in all gardens for a long time. The most suitable are near-natural gardens, which are not only planted with various wildflowers, but also offer nesting sites and haunches (stones, branches). Anyone who wants to settle beneficial organisms, should completely abstain from plant protection products. Enemies of the Aphrophoridae are:
  • assassin bugs
  • be crazy
  • ants
  • birds
  • grave wasps
3. Insert the yellow boards
Many flying pests can be attracted by a special yellow hue. This phenomenon is used in yellow sheets to catch the insects. The yellow boards do not contain any insecticides or other poisons, they are only coated with an odorless special glue, which does not dry or drip at higher temperatures. White flies, mourning gnats and also foamy cicadas fly to the yellow sheets and stick in the glue. In this way, the foamy cicadas can no longer multiply and thus also do no harm to the plants.
  • right at the beginning of the culture
  • always hang over the crops
  • Also suitable for the greenhouse or windowsill
  • do not harm the beneficials
  • Adhesiveness is not affected by water
  • Can be used all year round
  • replace if necessary
  • catch only the adult foamy cicadas
  • against the larvae must be proceeded separately
4. Means against sucking insects
In the case of a very strong infestation, it makes sense to use an agent against the larvae in addition to yellow sheets for the adult foam cicadas. In principle, all remedies for sucking insects, such as aphids, work on foamy cicadas. It is best to use a product with essential oils or liverwort extract and avoid chemical agents in order not to disturb the biological balance in the garden.
5. No oil
Niem oil, also known as neem oil, is a purely organic compound made from the seeds of the neem tree. It helps against the most diverse pests in the house and garden and is very easy to use.
  • Sprayed Niemöl helps against acute infestation
  • in the irrigation water, it strengthens the plant from within
  • Beneficial organisms are in no way endangered
  • Make a solution of a few drops of no oil per liter of water
  • spray on the leaves (also on the underside of the leaves)
  • add to the irrigation water (preventative effect)
  • If necessary, first rinse the foam nests with the garden hose
  • do not use in rain or strong sunshine
Tip: The larvae of the foam cicada do not die off immediately, but only after a few days. In most cases the plant is not pest-free after one-time spraying and the procedure has to be repeated several times.

Species and distribution


Except in the Arctic and Antarctic, Aphrophoridae live all over the world. In particular, about 850 species are found in the tropics. Some foamy cicadas prefer moist areas and live near waters or meadows, others live in arid areas. We have four genera of foamy cicadas. The small insects are usually named after their area of ​​distribution or the host plant that they prefer haunt. For this reason, especially these plants are threatened. Here are the following Schaumzikaden native:
1. Aphrophora (relatively large species up to 12.5 cm in length)
  • Alder foam cicada (Aphrophora alni)
  • Pine cicada (A. corticea)
  • Alpine foam cicada (A. major)
  • Colorful willow foam cicada (A. pectoralis)
  • Brown willow foam cicada (A. salicina)
2. Lepyronia (wide oval body shape)
  • Sulfur cicada (Lepyronia coleoptrata), shimmers bluish
3. Neophilaenus (species-richest genus, much slimmer body shape)
  • Zwerenschaumzikade (Neophilaenus albipennis)
  • Field foam cicada (N. campestris)
  • Forest foam cicada (N. exclamationis)
  • Steppe foam cicada (N. infumatus)
  • Grasshopper cicada (N. lineatus)
  • Dwarf foam cicada (N. minor)
  • Spitzkopf-Schaumzikade (N. modestus)
4. Philaenus (broad oval body shape)
  • Meadow foam cicada (Philaenus spumarius)
Schaumzikaden are extremely fascinating and usually completely harmless insects that feed on plant juices. Only in exceptional cases, for example, in a mass infestation, a fight is necessary.Foamy cicadas can be combated with common remedies such as yellow boards or no-oil. Here, however, a little patience is needed, because the success is only after some time.

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