Leaf-footed bugs are fairly large, slow-flying insects that feed on the flowers, seeds and cones of many species of garden plants. Often confused with the squash bug, they are named for the flat-leaf-like flare on their back legs. Growing up to one inch long, leaf-footed bugs can be brown, grayish or black and have white marks on their wings.
Leaf-footed bugs dine on fruits, nuts and ornamental plants, devouring plant parts, particularly seeds, by using their piercing-sucking mouth parts. Attaching to plants with their long, strong legs, they will feed on almost any succulent plant. It is during the adult state that the bugs probe deeply into fruit in search of seeds, causing the most destruction to plants.
Adult leaf-footed bugs feed on spring’s newly forming seeds and flowers, mating in the fall and laying their eggs on host plants and trees. After about 10 days the eggs hatch and nymphs start feeding, the part of the bug’s life cycle that causes the most damage to host plants. Adults continue to lay eggs for an extended period, resulting in two or three possible generations during the summer. Once cold weather arrives and plants die off, they begin looking for a good winter hibernation site. Leaves and other types of plant debris are carriers of the eggs, so control of these bugs in the summer can help stave off their autumn reproduction.
Leaf-foot bugs can be found anywhere in the garden during the growing season, from tomato plants to ornamental shrubs. In winter, the bugs may accumulate in wood piles, outbuildings or under the bark of trees like the juniper or cypress. If you’re interested in preventing a serious infestation, inspect these areas and try to keep weedy areas closely mowed. The arrival of late fall and early winter can also see infestation of homes as the leaf-footed bug looks for a warm spot to spend the winter. Large and slow-flying, it’s easy to spot this big bug in the home.
Preventing an Infestation
There are several ways you can try to prevent a leaf-footed bug infestation. Hand inspection is tedious but effective in removing bugs, especially early in the season when the young nymphs are still clustered in the leaves. Be sure to use gloves, as some species emit a stink when crushed. Some gardeners use light, permeable row covers on their plants, useful for fending off a number of pests. If your plants are suffering from a leaf-footed bug invasion and you would like professional assistance, contact Clegg’s online or via phone at 888-672-5344.
Image via: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coreidae