`UK Calls for 'Spittlebug Spies' to Gather Evidence for Xylella Project

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UK Calls for 'Spittlebug Spies' to Gather Evidence for Xylella Project

Apr. 24, 2020
Julie Al-Zoubi

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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.

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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.



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