growing strawberries in a container on my deck

Asked April 28, 2020, 3:02 PM EDT

Hello, I have a strawberry plant in a container on my deck. I notice that it has a white substance that looks like spit about the size of a pea on my plant. Can you tell me what this might be and how to get rid of it? I had a very healthy plant last year and I bought another small plant from Fred Meyer recently to plant with the one I had and now this is happening. I don't see any bugs on my plant. It is very healthy looking and growing blossoms. I fertilize it once a week. Can you help me? Thank you!

Washington County Oregon

1 Response

Thank you for choosing Ask an Expert for help with your strawberry planting. What you are seeing is the protection a spittlebug makes for itself. If you search through the “spittle”, you will find the tiny (3mm or 1/8”), pale green critter.

They are common at this time of year (I just found some on my dianthus, yesterday), and especially on strawberries. They suck the juices from the plants and frequently cause distortion of the leaves or tip of the plant.

The bubbles protect the insect from insect sprays, but a stream of water will usually knock them down, where their natural enemies will find them. Keeping after them for a few weeks will help prevent them from laying eggs for next season’s attack.

A full account of spittlebug life cycle, can be found here: https://pnwhandbooks.org/insect/small-fruit/strawberry/strawberry-spittlebug

Have a good gardening year,