Hoppers of North Carolina:
Spittlebugs, Leafhoppers, Treehoppers, and Planthoppers
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APHROPHORIDAE Members: NC Records

Aphrophora saratogensis - Saratoga Spittlebug



© Kyle Kittelberger- note sharp flat head

© Ken Childs- note reddish color and white line

© Kyle Kittelberger- unusual reddish variety

© Cindy Darnell- young nymph; note coloration
Taxonomy
Family: APHROPHORIDAE
Identification
Online Photographs: BugGuide                                                                                  
Description: The adult is almost always reddish to reddish-brown in color with white patches on the wings and a broad silvery-white line or 'arrow' (in well-marked specimens) running down the middle of the thorax and onto the head. Some atypical individuals may on occasion appear uniformly rufous in color. Wings are heavily pitted, characteristic of members of this genus, and the top of the head is relatively but noticeably flat. Adult males are 7.9-10.8 mm long, females are 9.0-11.2 mm. (Hamilton, 1982), (Wilson, 1987)

Nymphs range in body length from 2.0 mm (first instar) to 8.0 mm (fifth instar). Nymphs have bright scarlet abdomens, a striking and distinct characteristic of the first four instars which contrasts with the head, thoracic tergites and portions of the leg segments, all of which are blackish. The abdomen of the first instar is entirely crimson, with gray-black pigment confined to the caudal abdominal segment/tergite. Instars two through four have increasingly darkened (black) pleurites on the scarlet abdomen. The median line on the head and thorax is a light brown color, and the eyes are reddish. The fifth instar begins with a pale red abdomen and tan thorax, head and legs before becoming a uniform brown and then deep mahogany as it ages, looking very different from the previous four instars. (Wilson)

Distribution in North Carolina
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Out of State Record(s)
Distribution: A common species of Eastern North America, it has also been found from British Columbia to California. BG
Abundance: A seemingly somewhat uncommon species in North Carolina. Recorded across the state, primarily from the eastern half, probably more abundant in the right habitat.
Seasonal Occurrence
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Habitats and Life History
Habitats: Pine or coniferous forests are favored, with herbaceous undergrowth for the nymphs. Has also been found in mixed hardwood forests and tall grass.
Plant Associates: Main plant hosts for the adults are red pine, Jack pine, and Scots pine, though the Saratoga spittlebug will also feed on white pine, pitch pine, tamarack, balsam fir, and northern white-cedar, usually from trees near infested red pine. (Wilson, 1987)

Young nymphs feed on a variety of herbaceous plant species of the forest floor such as brambles (raspberry and blackberry), orange hawkweed, everlasting, aster, goldenrod, sheep sorrel, old-field cinquefoil, spotted knapweed, meadowsweet, and many others. Older , fifth-instar nymphs feed on sweetfern and willow sprouts, both key hosts. Hundreds of plant species likely are alternate hosts for nymphs. (Wilson), (Wilson, 1987) Recently, nymphs were detected in state feeding on clover; white clover (Trifolium repens) is a minor host plant for this species (Wilson et al., 1977).

Behavior: Nymphs hatch from eggs in May and form a spittlemass as they feed on the ground. In late June or July, the nymphs shed their skin and become adults. Adults fly to the pine hosts and feed on the sap of the branches until the end of September. Wilson
Comment: Adults can cause damage to young pines, especially their main host species, that are between 2 and 15 feet tall. For more information on this species and its natural history, see Wilson and Wilson, 1987.
Status: Native
Global and State Rank:

Species Photo Gallery for Aphrophora saratogensis Saratoga Spittlebug

Photo by: Margarita Lankford
Orange Co.
Comment: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/80044003
Photo by: Margarita Lankford
Orange Co.
Comment: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/79201490
Photo by: Margarita Lankford
Orange Co.
Comment: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/78743134
Photo by: Margarita Lankford
Orange Co.
Comment: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/78743134
Photo by: Bo Sullivan
Scotland Co.
Comment:
Photo by: Bo Sullivan
Scotland Co.
Comment:
Photo by: Bo Sullivan
Scotland Co.
Comment:
Photo by: Erich Hofmann
Craven Co.
Comment: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/53470561 - unid_spittlebug
Photo by: Erich Hofmann
Craven Co.
Comment: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/53470561 - unid_spittlebug
Photo by: Erich Hofmann
Craven Co.
Comment: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/53470561 - unid_spittlebug
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger
Scotland Co.
Comment: riverside herbaceous and grassy vegetation
Photo by: Margarita Lankford
Orange Co.
Comment: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/46253872
Photo by: Margarita Lankford
Orange Co.
Comment: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/46253872
Photo by: Margarita Lankford
Orange Co.
Comment: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/46253872
Photo by: Cindy Darnell
Durham Co.
Comment: fifth instar nymph, bubble mass along white clover roots.
Photo by: Cindy Darnell
Durham Co.
Comment: fifth instar nymph, bubble mass along white clover roots.
Photo by: Cindy Darnell
Durham Co.
Comment: fifth instar nymph, bubble mass along white clover roots.
Photo by: Cindy Darnell
Durham Co.
Comment: fifth instar nymph, bubble mass along white clover roots.
Photo by: Cindy Darnell
Durham Co.
Comment: fifth instar nymph, bubble mass along white clover roots.
Photo by: Cindy Darnell
Durham Co.
Comment: fifth instar nymph, bubble mass along white clover roots.
Photo by: Cindy Darnell
Durham Co.
Comment: Two nymphs in bubble masses among clover stem/roots on the surface of the soil. no nymphs were found on any other neighboring plants (wood sorrel, Bermuda grass). clover patch is below tree line, including pine and sweetgum trees. Pine pollen cones and needles are mixed in with the plants.Found two more in a nearby clover patch! I replanted the clover and moved them indoors. Both nymphs created new spittle masses within a half hour of being transplanted.
Photo by: Cindy Darnell
Durham Co.
Comment: Two nymphs in bubble masses among clover stem/roots on the surface of the soil. no nymphs were found on any other neighboring plants (wood sorrel, Bermuda grass). clover patch is below tree line, including pine and sweetgum trees. Pine pollen cones and needles are mixed in with the plants.Found two more in a nearby clover patch! I replanted the clover and moved them indoors. Both nymphs created new spittle masses within a half hour of being transplanted.
Photo by: Cindy Darnell
Durham Co.
Comment: Two nymphs in bubble masses among clover stem/roots on the surface of the soil. no nymphs were found on any other neighboring plants (wood sorrel, Bermuda grass). clover patch is below tree line, including pine and sweetgum trees. Pine pollen cones and needles are mixed in with the plants.Found two more in a nearby clover patch! I replanted the clover and moved them indoors. Both nymphs created new spittle masses within a half hour of being transplanted.
Photo by: Cindy Darnell
Durham Co.
Comment: Two nymphs in bubble masses among clover stem/roots on the surface of the soil. no nymphs were found on any other neighboring plants (wood sorrel, Bermuda grass). clover patch is below tree line, including pine and sweetgum trees. Pine pollen cones and needles are mixed in with the plants.Found two more in a nearby clover patch! I replanted the clover and moved them indoors. Both nymphs created new spittle masses within a half hour of being transplanted.
Photo by: Cindy Darnell
Durham Co.
Comment: Two nymphs in bubble masses among clover stem/roots on the surface of the soil. no nymphs were found on any other neighboring plants (wood sorrel, Bermuda grass). clover patch is below tree line, including pine and sweetgum trees. Pine pollen cones and needles are mixed in with the plants.Found two more in a nearby clover patch! I replanted the clover and moved them indoors. Both nymphs created new spittle masses within a half hour of being transplanted.
Photo by: Margarita Lankford
Orange Co.
Comment: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/44789466
Photo by: Margarita Lankford
Orange Co.
Comment: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/44789466
Photo by: Margarita Lankford
Orange Co.
Comment: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/44789466
Photo by: Cindy Darnell
Durham Co.
Comment: attached to roots of flowering plant near the surface of the soil
Photo by: Cindy Darnell
Durham Co.
Comment: attached to roots of flowering plant near the surface of the soil
Photo by: Cindy Darnell
Durham Co.
Comment: attached to roots of flowering plant near the surface of the soil
Photo by: Cindy Darnell
Durham Co.
Comment: attached to roots of flowering plant near the surface of the soil
Photo by: Mark Shields
Onslow Co.
Comment:
Photo by: Mark Shields
Onslow Co.
Comment:
Photo by: Ken Kneidel
Yancey Co.
Comment: 9.3 mm
Photo by: Tracy S. Feldman
Scotland Co.
Comment: unid_leafhopper
Photo by: Ken Childs
Out Of State Co.
Comment:
Photo by: T. DeSantis
Camden Co.
Comment:
Photo by: Paul Scharf
Warren Co.
Comment: Caught Sweeping
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf
Vance Co.
Comment: grassy, field type habitat along forest edge. According to Vinton Thompson, "It appears to be a color variation of Aphrophora saratogensis - the morphology and the habitat match. If you come across a whole population of such individuals it would be worth investigating a little further, but it is probably an instance of individual variation."
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf
Vance Co.
Comment: grassy, field type habitat along forest edge. According to Vinton Thompson, "It appears to be a color variation of Aphrophora saratogensis - the morphology and the habitat match. If you come across a whole population of such individuals it would be worth investigating a little further, but it is probably an instance of individual variation."
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf
Vance Co.
Comment: grassy, field type habitat along forest edge. According to Vinton Thompson, "It appears to be a color variation of Aphrophora saratogensis - the morphology and the habitat match. If you come across a whole population of such individuals it would be worth investigating a little further, but it is probably an instance of individual variation."
Photo by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Paul Scharf
Ashe Co.
Comment: mixed hardwood forest habitat
Photo by: Paul Scharf
Warren Co.
Comment: Caught several in tall mixed grass while sweeping