Begone, vile bugs of spittle, begone!

Something unexpected that might happen when you buy an established lavender plant that’s been living (gasp) outside for most of its existence: it may have things living on it that are neither fragrant nor delicious.  Things that you don’t necessarily want to share your apartment with.  Things like spittle bugs.  My day job’s been keeping me pretty busy lately, so I’ll recount for you, as best I can, the curly-headed vixen’s battle with the vile bugs of spittle.  It started something like this:

Curly-headed vixen (upon inspecting our recent adoptee):  There’s some white, foamy stuff on the lavender plant.

Me:  Eww.

CHV:  What do you think it is?

Now, the curly-headed vixen is dramatically arachnophobic and I didn’t want her to have a seizure or burn down the house, but I also didn’t want to withhold the only anecdotal information (possibly mis-information) I have about white, foamy stuff on plants.

Me (bracing for pocket flamethrower or cerebrovascular incident):  I think sometimes spiders lay eggs in white, foamy stuff…

CHV (with noticeable alarm):  I’m putting the plant outside.

The curly-headed vixen, demonstrating remarkable calm given the situation, gingerly placed the lavender plant and its gestating army of arachnid invaders on our porch, then came inside and got on the internet to investigate.  I busied myself by staring vacantly at the wall and drooling slightly, as is my custom when I get home from a particularly exhausting day at work.  The curly-headed vixen typed and clicked away.

CHV:  I don’t think they’re spiders, I think they’re spittle bugs.

Me:  Eww.

Long pause, much typing and clicking.

CHV:  The foamy stuff doesn’t have anything to do with eggs, it’s what they poop out when they digest the plant material.

Me:  Eww.

More typing and clicking, then rustling around in kitchen cabinets.  CHV retrieved the lavender plant from the porch and returned to the living room.

CHV:  Do you want to take a picture of the spittle bugs for your blog?  I’m going to kill them with garlic.

Well, yes.  Yes, I do:

Yup, that's foamy poop for ya.

There are many things I love and appreciate about the curly-headed vixen.  One is her efficacious use of the internet for problem-solving in real life.  Another is her (related) ability to transform common household ingredients into interesting things, sometimes delicious, sometimes destructive.  Here is the curly-headed vixen’s recipe/method for dealing with unwelcome insect intruders.  It is free of chemical pesticides and smells like a slightly odd italian meal.

  • The better part of a head of garlic, crushed
  • A bunch of chili powder
  • A somewhat moldy onion (optional)
  • 2 cups of water

Allow mixture to sit overnight and congeal into a gross tea.  Strain.  Funnel remaining liquid into a spray bottle.  Add a squirt of (bleach-free) dish soap.  Agitate.  Watch documentary about evangelical christians.  Allow internal monologue to adopt a decidedly biblical tone.  Use water to remove spittle from plants, revealing bugs.  Commence smiting.  Spray bugs directly with mixture, intoning “begone from this plant, vile bugs of spittle, begone!”  After bugs flee in panic, coat plant with mixture to ward off bugs’ return.  Rejoice in success, for good has triumphed over evil.

24 hours later, the lavender plant is still spittle bug free, but remains quarantined outside as a precaution.  The thumb-o-meter deems this process a success, with a rating of “All Natural Victory Green.”

Spittle bugs.  Eww.

-Flora Greenthumb