PLANT-loving Brits have been warned to beware of a "harmful" froth appearing in gardens this month.
Insects known as spittlebugs, also called froghoppers, are tipped to smother flowers in potentially-dangerous foam, according to experts.
People have been urged not to touch plants which have been infected with the froth, amid fears it could be carrying a new wildlife-threatening disease.
The balls of foam, resembling spittle, are formed by the insects for protection while sucking on a plant's sap for nutrition.
The red and black creatures – whose offspring will hatch on to a plant bearing the leftover balls of foam – are most active from the end of May throughout June.
The insects are not harmful to humans but scientists now fear they could spread a plant disease known as Xyella, YorkshireLive reported.
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If it were discovered in Britain, all plants within a 100m radius could need to be destroyed – with native UK plant species at risk of being wiped out.
The Spittlebug Survey research group said in a plea to the public: "Please let us know when you see either spittle, nymphs (juveniles) or adults of the xylem-feeding insects (spittlebugs / froghoppers and some leafhoppers ) that have the potential to act as vectors of the bacteria.
"These records will help us build up a picture of where the bugs are found, what plants they feed on and how much they move around.
"This information will be essential for deciding how best to respond should the Xylella bacterium arrive in the UK."
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Spittlebugs were mimicked last year in a episode of BBC Two's Springwatch wildlife programme, by Chris Packham alongside co-presenter Michaela Strachan – to viewers' bemusement.
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