Leaffooted Bugs Common in Summer Vegetable Gardens by Wizzie Brown

leaffooted bug specicimen

Figure 1: Leaffooted bug displaying the flattened leaf-like back legs.

Leaffooted Bugs and Stink Bugs Closely Related

Leaffooted bugs are sometimes mistaken for stink bugs, which are a closely related insect. However, Leaffooted bugs are larger than stink bugs and have an elongated body. Some leaffooted bugs have an expanded region on their hind leg that looks similar to a leaf, hence the name leaffooted bug (Figure 1).

Identifying Traits

Adult insects are fairly large and grayish-brown. Immatures, or nymphs, look similar to adults, but may differ in color and lack the expanded region on the leg until closer to adulthood (Figure 2). Nymphs also lack fully developed wings. Leaffooted bug nymphs look very similar to Assassin Bug nymphs, which are a beneficial insect. You can tell the difference by their behavior. Assassin Bugs usually are found by themselves, leaffo0ted bugs are found in large groups.

Leaffooted Bug Adult and Nymphs

Figure 2: Leaffooted Bug Adult and Nymphs

Tomatoes Are a Favorite Target

These bugs feed on a variety of fruits, nuts and seeds, but we most often get calls from people who have them on tomatoes, peppers or sunflowers. The insects have piercing-sucking mouthparts and puncture fruit or seeds to suck out plant juices. The opening left behind can allow access to secondary invaders or rot.

Best Ways to Control

There are three ways you can manage these insects:

  • hand-picking (be sure to wear gloves if utilizing this method),
  • sucking off the plant with a hand-held vacuum,
  • spraying plants with pesticides. If choosing to use a pesticide, read the product label and make sure it can be used in the area you are treating (i.e. vegetable garden).

Additional Resources

Leaffooted Bug Field Guide

Integrated Pest Management

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