Two-lined Spittlebug | Prosapia bicincta (Say)

California Pest Rating for
Prosapia bicincta (Say): Two-lined spittlebug
Pest Rating: A



Initiating Event:

Prosapia bicincta Say is present in the Eastern United States. It has been intercepted by CDFA three times in 2017, with the most recent interception occurring at the Needles inspection station on a shipment of Citrus from Atlanta, Georgia. This species has a temporary Q rating pending risk analysis in California. A pest rating proposal is required to assign a permanent rating

History & Status:

BackgroundProsapia bicincta are true bugs that occur from the states of Maine to Florida, and west to Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma (Campbell, 2016). Nymphs and adults are xylem feeders and feed on any plants that provide fluid to meet its requirements (Pass and Reed, 1965). Its main hosts include grasses, ornamental plants, crops and weeds. Their damage is most noticeable when immature stages of the insect produce masses of frothy spittle while feeding on the host. This spittle encircles the twigs and young leaves of the hosts (Cornille 2005, Godwin, 2008).

Adults are 8-10 mm long and dark brown to black in color. They generally have two red-orange lines crossing the wings. However, adults can be marked sometimes. They are most active in early morning and hide near the soil surface or in the foliage for the rest of the day. At night, adults become active and are attracted to lights (Campbell, 2016).

Prosapia bicincta is an important pest of pasture grass in the south eastern United States. Both adults and nymphs absorb plant juices with their piercing & sucking mouth parts; with adults causing the most damage. Adults inject a poison at the feeding site and this poison causes loss of chlorophyll in the host, resulting in drying out and death of plants. (Campbell, 2016)

Worldwide Distribution:

Prosapia bicincta is native to North America and is present in Cuba, the United States and Canada (CABI 2017). In the United States, it ranges from Maine to Florida in the east and Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas in the west.

Official Control: Prosapia bicincta has been listed as a harmful organism in Brazil, Colombia and Japan (PCIT, 2018).

California DistributionProsapia bicincta has never been found in the natural environment of California.

California InterceptionsProsapia bicincta was intercepted 35 times between January 1990 and January 2018 by CDFA through detection surveys, border stations, and federal exterior quarantine activities (CDFA Pest and Damage Report Database, 2018)

The risk Prosapia bicincta (two lined spittlebug) would pose to California is evaluated below.

Consequences of Introduction: 

1) Climate/Host Interaction: Prosapia bicincta needs a humid, moist environment and cannot survive in draught conditions. Nymphs camouflage by living in foam nest that they make by blowing bubbles through their abdomen into plant juices. More insects have been reported during the rainy years when more thatch is available. Nests usually occur near soil surface or in thatch. (Campbell, 2016) Since it is a native species and widely prevalent in south-eastern US and some western states, it is likely to be introduced and established in California during the moist and wet winter months. It receives a Medium (2) in this category.

Evaluate if the pest would have suitable hosts and climate to establish in California:

Score: 2

– Low (1) Not likely to establish in California; or likely to establish in very limited areas.

– Medium (2) may be able to establish in a larger but limited part of California.

– High (3) likely to establish a widespread distribution in California.

2) Known Pest Host Range: Prosapia bicincta is known to feed on nine families of ornamental and crop plants (John Pickering, 2018). Nymphs primarily feed on centipede grass, coastal bermudagrass and other bermudagrass cultivars. Damage has been reported on other grasses such as pangolagrass, and St. Augustine grass. Other susceptible hosts include sweet corn, seashore paspalum, zoysiagrass, and tall fescue. Adults feed on ornamental hollies used in landscapes. (Nachappa, 2004). Most of these hosts are present throughout California. It receives a High (3) in this category.

Evaluate the host range of the pest:

Score: 3

– Low (1) has a very limited host range.

– Medium (2) has a moderate host range.

– High (3) has a wide host range.

3) Pest Dispersal Potential: Prosapia spp. females lay approximately 45 eggs on average. Eggs hatch in about two weeks. Nymphs undergo four instars within one month. Spittle bugs overwinter as eggs in hollow stems and in thatch at base of the grass. There are two generations in a year (Cornille 2005, Godwin, 2008). This species is most active from late spring through early fall. It receives a Medium (2) in this category.

Evaluate the natural and artificial dispersal potential of the pest:

Score: 2

– Low (1) does not have high reproductive or dispersal potential.

– Medium (2) has either high reproductive or dispersal potential.

– High (3) has both high reproduction and dispersal potential.

4) Economic Impact: Prosapia spps. can reduce forage quality and availability, thereby competing with grazing animals. They are likely to causes huge losses to improved pastures. Prosapia bicincta feed on the underside of the leaves and inject poison that cause the plant to lose its chlorophyll. Nymphs remove a lot of fluid from the plants to continuously produce spittle (Campbell, 2016). Heavily infested pastures turn brown, become unproductive and may experience die back in large patches (Vendramini et al., 2015). Use of cultural practices such as burning of dense mats of infested pastures, stockpiling for grazing in the following season, killing eggs in spring and preventing thatch accumulation can add to production costs. It receives a High (3) in this category.

Evaluate the economic impact of the pest to California using the criteria below:

Economic Impact: A, B, D

A. The pest could lower crop yield.

B. The pest could lower crop value (includes increasing crop production costs).

C. The pest could trigger the loss of markets (includes quarantines).

D. The pest could negatively change normal cultural practices.

E. The pest can vector, or is vectored, by another pestiferous organism.

F. The organism is injurious or poisonous to agriculturally important animals.

G. The organism can interfere with the delivery or supply of water for agricultural uses.

Economic Impact Score: 3

– Low (1) causes 0 or 1 of these impacts.

– Medium (2) causes 2 of these impacts.

– High (3) causes 3 or more of these impacts.

5) Environmental Impact: Prosapia bicincta is not likely to lower biodiversity and disrupt natural communities. It is also not known to impact major endangered and threatened species in California. However, if this species is introduced and gets established, it may impact grassland species such asTrifolium amoenum, an endangered annual herb occurring in grassland areas of the San Francisco Bay area and the northern California (California Native Plant Society, 2018). Being an economic pest of grasses, this species is likely to trigger official treatments if it gets established in rangelands in the state.  It receives a High (3) in this category.

Evaluate the environmental impact of the pest on California using the criteria below:

Environmental Impact:  B, D

A. The pest could have a significant environmental impact such as lowering biodiversity, disrupting natural communities, or changing ecosystem processes.

B. The pest could directly affect threatened or endangered species.

C. The pest could impact threatened or endangered species by disrupting critical habitats.

D. The pest could trigger additional official or private treatment programs.

E. The pest significantly impacts cultural practices, home/urban gardening or ornamental plantings.

Score the pest for Environmental Impact:

Environmental Impact Score: 3

– Low (1) causes none of the above to occur.

– Medium (2) causes one of the above to occur.

High (3) causes two or more of the above to occur.

Consequences of Introduction to California for Prosapia bicincta (two lined spittlebug): High (13)

Add up the total score and include it here:

-Low = 5-8 points

-Medium = 9-12 points

High = 13-15 points

6) Post Entry Distribution and Survey Information: Prosapia bicincta (two-legged spittle bug) has never been found in the environment in California and receives a Not Established (0) in this category.

Evaluate the known distribution in California. Only official records identified by a taxonomic expert and supported by voucher specimens deposited in natural history collections should be considered. Pest incursions that have been eradicated, are under eradication, or have been delimited with no further detections should not be included:

Score: 0

Not established (0) Pest never detected in California, or known only from incursions.

-Low (-1) Pest has a localized distribution in California, or is established in one suitable climate/host area (region).

-Medium (-2) Pest is widespread in California but not fully established in the endangered area, or pest established in two contiguous suitable climate/host areas.

-High (-3) Pest has fully established in the endangered area, or pest is reported in more than two contiguous or non-contiguous suitable climate/host areas.

Final Score:

The final score is the consequences of introduction score minus the post entry distribution and survey information score: High (13)


Prosapia bicincta is native to North America and is a most important pest of pastures in southeastern Unites States. This species has not yet been introduced to CA, possibly due to dry weather in most of the state during summer months. However, if it is introduced during rainy and winter months and get established, it could significantly impact the pastures in the state. Because this species is currently established in the southeastern states, any host material coming from those areas could potentially contain P. bicinta. Surveys of California wetlands and coastal areas could be helpful in early detection of this spittlebug. Because it is unable to establish in areas with hot and dry summers, its economic impacts may not be significant.

Conclusion and Rating Justification:

Prosapia bicincta has not been reported in the environment of California and based on weather conditions and time of the year, it is likely to have significant economic and environmental impacts if it were to enter the state.  An “A”-rating is justified.


California Native Plant Society, 2018. Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of California, online edition, v8-03 0.39. Accessed April 27, 2018:

Campbell, D. 2016. Brief Summary- Prosapia bicincta (Say 1830). Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed 4/26/2017:

Cornille, S. 2005 and Goodwin, C. 2008. Two-lined Spittlebug. Texas Agrilife Extension Service. Dickinson, Texas. Accessed April 26, 2018:–two-lined-spittlebug.pdf

Nachappa, Punya 2004. Biology and management of two lined spittlebug, Prosapia bicincta (Say) (Hempitera: Cercopidae) in turfgrass. MS Thesis. University of Georgia, Athens, GA. Accessed April 26, 2018:

Pass, B. C., and Reed, J.K.1965. Biology and control of the spittlebug Prosapia bicincta in coastal Bermuda grass. J. Econ. Entomol. 58: 275-278:

Pickering, J. 2018. Prosapia bicinca (Say, 1830) Two-lined spittlebug. Discover Life. Accessed April 25, 2018:

Pest and Damage Record Database. Pest Prevention and Plant Health Services. California Department of Food and Agriculture. Accessed 4/24/2018:

Vandramini, J, Debeux, J.C.B. Jr. and Buss, E. 2015. Management of Spittlebugs in Pasture. University of Florida, IFAS Extension. Accessed April 25, 2018:

USDA Phytosanitary Certificate Issuance & Tracking System (PCIT) Phytosanitary Export Database (PExD). Accessed 4/24/18:


Raj Randhawa, 1220 ‘N’ Street, Room 221, Sacramento CA 95814, (916) 403-6617,[@]


Responsible Party:

Jason Leathers, 2800 Gateway Oaks, Sacramento CA 95833, (916) 654-1211,[@]

Comment Period:* CLOSED

7/30/18 – 9/13/18


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Pest Rating: A


Posted by ls