What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hi,
I’ve wasted at least an hour on the web trying to identify the bugs on my tomato plants. I had hoped I could simply locate them without having to ask, but apparently not.The only thing that it almost looks like is the nymph squash bug, but that’s definitely not what I’ve got. The body is orange with little black dots on the abdomen, and it has six black legs and it has a sucker that it sticks into the plant like a mosquito in your skin. I originally thought they were harmless as they appeared all of a sudden one day but didn’t seem to be doing any damage.I shook them off, but they keep coming back–now I squish them if I can find them. They are less than a centimeter long and leave my leaves with a million little pinprick-looking holes–I’m not sure if they’re eating the fruit. Also, I haven’t been able to locate any eggs, or a younger or older version. Please, hopefully you can tell me what these things are!
Thanks,
Tracy in Louisiana

Dear Tracy,
It sounds like you may have the nymph stage of the Keelbacked Treehopper (Antianthe expansa) which feeds on solanaceous garden plants, mainly peppers and tomatoes, though I have also found them on eggplant. The adults are green and winged, and sometimes appear along with large colonies of nymphs. They move quickly, trying to avoid danger. They have sucking mouthparts, and drain the life giving sap from their host plants, so though they do not eat the tomatoes proper, they can do considerable damage to the plants. This is compounded by the secretion of honeydew, which attracts ants as well as increasing the chances for secondary infections to the plants. Eradicate them.

Hello again,
Sorry to report, but that’s not what I’ve got. The bodies are much skinnier and they really are distinctly orange with just the few little black dots on the abdomen. I’ve captured one and noticed that they molt and right afterwards, their whole bodies (including legs and antennae and sucker) are orange temporarily, then the legs antennae and sucker go back to black.If you can’t identify them, it isn’t the end of the world. But do you think that if I water the plants with soapy water it will kill them? (This was my mom’s suggestion.) And does the type of soap matter? (I used Palmolive)
Thanks again,
Tracy Morton

Hi again Tracy,
Let’s try this again.;Sometimes the nymph stage of an insect is radically different from the adult, at least in color. Most katydids are green, but the nymph of the Fork-Tailed Bush Katydid (Scudderia mexicana), as well as other members of the genus Scudderia, is orange with blue and black markings. Try looking at the photo of Scudderia furnica on this website to see it that is what you have. Remember, there are slight color variations between individuals. http://kaweahoaks.com/html/katydid.html
Regarding the soapy water question: make sure that the soap is very dilute, or it might do more damage to your plants than the bugs you are trying to eradicate. I like Ivory, but Palmolive is also mild.

October 1. 2002 it looked like a grasshopper with way long legs like if a spider and a grasshopper mated or something and i think it might have been able to fly, im in the midwest, please tell me what this evil creature was that scared me nearly to death? jenny

Dear Jenny,
Was it green? It might be a species of katydid. Check out other letters on our site that go into details about the habits and life cycles of these relatives of the grasshoppers. It isn’t really evil, and though they eat the leaves of plants, they are not known to occur in such large numbers to really be considered a pest. There are many romantic stories associated with katydids.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

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