January 19, 2010
My kids spotted this big guy crossing our road yesterday. My mother said my grandmother used to call these pumpkin bugs. Since my grandmother also thought a shot of whiskey cured anything that ails you, I’m not sure I trust her bug identification. We did notice it had two sets of wings and six legs, leading my son to think perhaps it was a beetle. He was about 1.25″ long from head to abdomen. Can you help us identify it? Also can you offer information about handling insects and which ones might bite? We tend to use sticks and leaves to move insects since I’m unsure what might bite when I can’t identify it. Thanks so much for your help!
We are on a mission to prove your whiskey swilling grandmother correct. This is a Leaf Footed Bug, a name applied to the entire family Coreidae. Leaf Footed Bugs are also called Big Legged Bugs or Flag Footed Bugs, though the latter name is generally reserved for some tropical species with even more greatly developed tibiae on the hind legs. The family, according to BugGuide, is also referred to as the Squash Bugs because many of the 88 known North American species are plant pests that feed on members of the squash and melon family. A pumpkin is a squash, so maybe Pumpkin Bug was a local name for your species, Acanthocephala declivis, which does not have a specific common name according to BugGuide. BugGuide cites a University of Florida website with this species identification: “Humeral angles of pronotum broadly expanded, extending laterally well beyond maximum lateral abdominal margin. Distal dilation of hind tibia broad until apex, then curving in at right angles to tibial shaft. Anterior pronotal lobe with 2 small shining blunt tubercles along midline.” Try as we might, we are unable to locate a website that specifically connects Acanthocephala declivis to pumpkins, but we trust the wisdom of the ages, and we truly believe your grandmother must have known something. Perhaps she grew pumpkins and found Acanthocephala declivis feeding on the plants each year. Pumpkin Bug is surely much easier to pronounce around the dinner table than Acanthocephala declivis is. In honor of your grandmother, we are going to unofficially proclaim Acanthocephala declivis the Pumpkin Bug. Ailing or not, we think you should drink a shot of whiskey to your sagely grandmother today.
I less than three your site! I’ll definitely throw one back for my granny tonight!