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Talkback: Cuckoo spit

arrrrrrrrrrh is that what it is,,,i have noticed this spit on many of my plants this week...i to like you kate have a very tiny garden it was awful when i moved in and over the years transformed it completly its really lovely cottage garden look ,i have got much wildlife to ,frogs,toads,newts,to many birds to mension and a bliming bees-nest ...[tree bumble-bees],foxes,fox-cubs and monkjack deer,mice in shed,the list is endless but i love it all and the most wonderful thing is there is so much more to find out and know .my garden is approx 22ftwide by 22ft lenght but brill news i have managed to buy some land to the side of my garden so that will give me an extra nearly 40 ft....already designing in my head....cant wait...


  • Ah muddyboots I wondered if they might be tree bumblebees, hope you are getting on ok with them as neighbours. I have male tree bumblebees scent marking over my garden at the moment, it's fascinating to watch. Hope some females turn up for them soon! Your garden sounds lovely. Just read about your woodpecker and blue tits. How horrible! Poor you!
  • called cuckoo spit as it appear in late spring at a time when the familiar call of cuckoos can be heard
  • Hi Kate,

    I started a garden in a very similar way a few years ago. When I started out I had an expanse of gravel and an overgrown Cotoneaster. Now you can't move for plants.

    It's amazing how quickly animals notice the change and respond making your garden their home. I love having insects and birds buzzing around when I'm in the garden and judge this as a true success. If only more people could appreciate it.

    Ryan (
  • hi kate ,do you mean that there will be more bees [females] waiting to enter the nest .... well i think they are tree-bees as i e-mailed the person you gave a link to,and stephanie replied to me..
    unfortunatley i was stung today on the eye-brow...not good not good....very sore...'i dont know mother nature'.
    not good news about blue-tits being attack by woodpecker but i now have a woodcrete birdbox up ready for next years blue-tits...
    do i have to take cockoo spit of my plants or just leave well alone???
  • Hi Ryan, totally agree. When my block of flats was built eight years ago all the 'garden' areas were paved, and so far I'm the only one who's taken up the slabs and made a garden. Seems such a waste in London to have concrete when you could have greenery and wildlife...

    Muddyboots, I meant females for male French bees in my garden, which are turning up to the same spot each day hoping a female is waiting for them. Sorry to hear about your sting! Lovely to hear you've bought a woodpecker-proof bird box for the blue tits! And yes, if you don't mind all that spit, you can leave the cuckoo spit well alone. Kate
  • Here's a trick. If you wipe the spittle away with a grass stem to expose the pale nymph inside, you can watch it re-spume itself. It rotates its abdomen like a slow egg-whisk, whilst all the time exuding liquid (it has a plentiful supply of sap to suck) and blowing bubbles out through its back end. It's bad enough that cuckoos are maligned by false accusations of expectoration, let's hope no one cottons on to the flatulence involved too.
  • I have cuckoo spit all over my Clematis montana and it is very welcome. I once put a froghopper adult in a matchbox with a lily beetle to show my children how beautiful insects could be and was rewarded by a succession of beetles brought to me for identification. Ladybirds were the supreme favourite.
  • ah I wondered if it was bad for plants, always get some on my dianthus...i will leave it alone now, I may even investigate it re-spuming !
  • Hello all,

    Ok so it sounds like cuckoo spit is a good thing really. I've been quite worried since it's started appearing on my rosemary and sage plants. One question though, will the rosemary and sage still be edible afterwards or do I have to let these plants just go to nature?
  • Richard I uncovered a nymph yesterday and instead of re-spuming it just trotted off, tail in the air. It looked quite put out!

    laradurham I would have thought the plants are safe to eat after they've been used by froghoppers - the 'spit' is mainly plant sap, although technically it is froghopper-nymph excrement. It wouldn't bother me, though.
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