Spittle Bug in white foam on a leaf

Spittlebugs are easily recognized by the white foamy 'spittle' produced by nymphs.  After consuming the sap from their favorite plants, spittlebug nymphs engulf themselves in a foamy excrement that makes them less desirable to predatory ants.  This "fecal foam" protects the spittlebug from becoming a meal.  Adults are less often seen but are commonly known as froghoppers.  All feed on plants, including woody and herbaceous types.

How Do I get rid of them?

Now that you know what the white foam is caused by, and what the nymphs are actually doing, and a little about why they are doing it, how the heck do you get rid of them?  It's always best to prevent them in the first place, but after that some insecticidal soap is an easy solution.

Prevention

1.  Regularly clean up your garden of debris

Spittlebug eggs will form in and around garden debris.  You need to clean up your garden and remove any old plant matter.  With religious cleaning, you'll get rid of the eggs and that will limit the number of spittlebugs that can hatch.

a praying mantis on top of a leaf

2.  Use row covers on vegetables

Row covers are made of lightweight fabric and can be used to protect your crops from spittlebugs and other pests.  Fabric row covers have tiny holes in them which allow the rain to come in, and the heat to go out.  They are an effective and inexpensive method of getting rod of spittlebugs.

3.  Use predatory insects 

Praying mantises prey on most insects and pests. You can release them onto your designated area and monitor the results after a week.  This method can be tried when other methods have not been successful.

Removal

4.  Once they have arrived, manually remove them from the plant

Use your hand to physically remove them off of your plant.  If you don't want to touch them, you can knock them off by spraying water directly on the spittlebug patch.  This is one of the easiest methods of how to get rid of spittlebugs, and best for mild infestations.

Sprayable Bon-Neem & Insecticidal Soap by Bonide

5.  Use insecticidal soaps or neem oil to simply wash them away

Both of these solutions are organic and can be used on vegetables, fruits and berries as well as your ornamental shrubs, flowers and trees.  Simply spray on and quite literally wash away those pesky unwanted visitors.