The John Innes Centre has put out a call for members of the public across the United Kingdom to report any sightings of frothy blobs of cuckoo spit spotted on plants. The research team has requested information on where the patches are spotted as well as the kind of plants they are on.
The Spittlebug Survey is part of the UK’s greater effort to keep Xylella fastidiosa out of the country. Earlier this week the government announced a tightening of rules on olive tree imports.
Although the UK has remained Xylella-free, the deadly disease has wiped out olive groves in southern Italy and spread across Europe.
The frothy blobs which usually appear on plants from late April until late June help scientists learn when and where spittlebugs are emerging. The data could aid in combatting the spread of the deadly plant disease.
While the spittlebugs which emerge from the froth are in themselves harmless, they are known to be capable of spreading Xylella from plant to plant.
Xylella can infect over 550 species across 70 plant families with symptoms including leaf scorch, wilt and die-back. The disease often proves fatal for infected trees and there is currently no known cure.
In 2019, the UK’s Spittlebug Spies provided scientists with a wealth of new data when over 11,000 sightings of the spittlebug were reported.