Q: We have several pine trees in a landscape island. At the end of the branches there is a substance that looks like white foam. Each tree has several masses, about one inch in size. Is it a normal happening or a symptom of something bad?
A: Your pine trees have pine spittlebugs on the branch tips. There are several species of spittlebugs, the most common is two-lined spittlebug, which any centipedegrass lawn-owner has surely noticed.
It is the nymphal stage of this insect that causes the foamy “spittle” you’ve seen. The nymphs suck sap from their host plant and expel the leftover as a frothy protection from predators.
Most spittlebug species attach themselves to the base of plants but pine spittlebugs find a nutritious roost at the tips of pine limbs. In almost all cases, the best control is to wash them off with a water hose.