Nature is weird.

I know that's kind of a blanket statement, but there's always something to be amazed by when it comes to nature. Sometimes amazement comes in the form of kinda gross stuff, though. I like to walk my dog in kind of a secret spot, and while it's nice to have some peace and quiet, there's all sorts of things to be awed and grossed out by.

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For instance, as beautiful as this secret location is, it's loaded with ticks. So even though my dog and I love it, it comes with a price. But there's something even more icky I've been noticing on our walks. A ton of the plants and small bushes are covered in spit. Like, big time white, foamy spitballs. It's totally gross.

That spit is grosser than you think.

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JStew
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So, what you're seeing is the feeding bubble of a spittlebug nymph. Maybe a Pine Spittlebug, or a Saratoga Spittlebug. There are actually many species of them in Maine, but it's so much more gross than it seems. So yeah, it's definitely a little bug that's causing it. But, what they're doing is basically making a little foam cocoon.

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JStew
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The purpose of this little spit hut, is for them to have a hiding place from predators, while also creating their own little personal restaurant. The spittlebugs hide inside the foam to and munch on the plants that are hosting them at the moment. So you might think you're looking at what's leftover, but in fact there's probably a nasty little bug inside there, living its best life.

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ePhotocorp
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Are they any kind of threat to plants and trees?

Actually, yes. the Pine Spittlebugs will slowly ruin a tree, and are considered a serious issue for our forests. They can cause all kinds of issues such as "flagging branches, dead terminal growth, and stunted and distorted stems and branches, and will kill trees in two to three years", according to Maine.gov.

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So if you're creeping around your own yard, or out in the woods, and see spit all over everything, it's not just some jerk out there horking loogies all over everything. It is a jerk, just not a human one, hahaha. But it's still pretty gross just the same.

Are any of these in Maine?

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