What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

this bug was in my dad’s vegtable garden.
June 27, 2010
the bug lives vegtables , i t bit my dad and his hand swoll up for a couple of days, we live in tampa florida.
thanx sarah
tampa florida

Leaf Footed Bug

Hi Sarah,
This is a Leaf Footed Bug in the genus Leptoglossus.  We find your letter quite interesting because this is a plant feeding species, not a predator.  It tends to be the predatory True Bugs that bite, like Assassin Bugs and Toe-Biters.  We have not heard of a Leaf Footed Bug biting a person, however, they have piercing mouthparts that would be capable of biting.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

33 Responses to Leaf Footed Bug bites gardener

  1. katieb says:

    We live in Dutchess County, New York and My daughter and I had just been admiring the leafbug as he walked up and down our table on our deck. It then climbed on my arm and walked up and down my arm as well. My daughter put her arm next to mine and it walked on her then it bite her and we had to shake it very hard to get it off her arm. The only reason I let it walk on us was because I had read that they do not bite/sting humans. From what i just read it wasn’t an adult yet it still had red antennas and it was all green it did not have it’s black spots yet.

    • bugman says:

      Thank you for providing this report, but the insect that you describe does not sound like an immature Leptoglossus species. There are many insects that are capable of biting a person, yet they are not normally known for biting. We have even received several reports of Cicadas inflicting a painful bite, but we must stress that this is not typical behavior. Without a photograph of the bug you describe, it is impossible for us to provide a definite comment. Many Assassin Bugs will bite, and superficially they resemble Leaf Footed Bugs.

  2. Mercedes Zayas says:

    I live in Wichita Falls, TX and I was just hanging out in my house when I felt something bit my arm, hard. I grabbed it with my other hand and it sprayed something that made my hand smell like old wet clothes. It was 1/4 inch long. It has six legs, flat body, light brown with white spots or strips, but it doesn’t have those leaf legs. Other than that like looks just like this. Any ideas on what it might be?

  3. dominikhofer says:

    The above mentioned Leaf-footed Bug looks like being Leptoglossus zonatus.

  4. Lori says:

    I also live in Tampa. I was outside with my dog. She had a black leaf footed bug on her back. I could tell it was biting her. I knocked it off and when I did, a large amount of blood when down with it. It was on the concrete and her fur. I know I did not kill as I could not find any trace of it except a few drops of blood. She received a very large swollen bite wound on her back from it. I watched it closely and it went away in a few days. These bugs do bite! One bit my dog, all the way through her fur.

  5. Jennifer H says:

    I was just bit on a walk in GA by a beetle/stinkbug type of insect. I’ve been browsing through hundreds of photos trying to figure out what got me. It reminded me of what my husband calls stickbugs in the south (which look nothing like what we called stinkbugs in GA.) I was drawn to this discussion of a Leaf footed bug because of the description on this website: http://www.austinbug.com/larvalbug/beast/archbeast9-11.html
    1. I first thought it was a wasp on my cheek. (And it took 5 swipes to get it off.)
    2. It made a buzzing (or even clicking sound).
    3. The hand that swiped it off my cheek smelled like CINNAMON!
    I really wish I’d saved it – but I was so freaked out. Now my cheek is numb and I am researching to see if I need to be worried…

  6. asdf says:

    South and Central Texas is rife with “stink bugs” (what we call them), but gardeners would call them squash bugs, others would call them leaf footed bugs. Our variety looks like a big, black, overgrown squash bug. Ugly as sin, and they produce a sickly sweet stench if you threaten them. The also on occasion will bite, if the opportunity arises, though it’s rare. We hated them as kids, especially since these bugs seemed smart enough to fly right at you, as their best defense. It would send us running. Or you risked getting sprayed, or bitten. As adults, I hate them even more as they ruin tomato and pepper plants. They especially love pin-marking near ripe tomatoes all to hell. And now that I’m older and wiser to go into the garden armed with a spray bottle filled with water and dish soap, which kills them by suffocation in just a couple of minutes, they fly away quickly. Before I can even get within 5 feet. Funny how when I walked into the garden at the beginning of the season with no spray, they allowed me to get very close. Now that I’m killing them wholesale, they somehow know that I’m walking death. I hate them. These things are the bain of every Texan. And yes there are many varieties. Here’s a pic of one such ugly fella:

  7. Salome Regan says:

    My 7 year old son was playing on the playground when a leaf footed bug fell on his head. He thought it was a leaf and used his hand to get it off. While doing so the bug bit him and he was in real pain. It only took a few minutes for his finger and half his hand to swell up. He is a tough cookie and the way he was crying and holding his finger I thought he had broken it. After 5 minutes of crying, which seemed like an eternity, he pointed to the bug that bit him. I took a picture and first posted it on FB for some feedback but after searching the internet it clearly was a leaf footed bug. The bug that bit him had the leaves on the back legs. Most people were telling us it must have been an assassin bug but the body nor the legs look anything like it. Anyway this is the only place I have seen on the web that they bite…and let me tell you they do. My son was in a lot of pain. We took some meds and iced his hand for a couple of hours and the swelling went down some. After 24 hours his finger and hand was back to normal and he could move it without pain.

    • bugman says:

      Eric Eaton once wrote to us that if it has a mouth, it can bite. Though they feed on plants, Leaf Footed Bugs have mouths designed to pierce and suck, so an unintentional bite could result in the symptoms you described.

  8. Ron Neumann says:

    I got bit when it walked in my collar of shirt, like a bee sting, swell up about the same as a bee sting.Guess I was crushing it when it bit

  9. Lauren says:

    A lot of these bites, especially the ones in TX and FL- beware of kissing bugs! They look similar to leaf footed or stink bugs but are deadly.. you should not be letting bugs crawl on your arms for fun no matter what. Be sure to identify any bugs that bite you and make sure they are not kissing bugs

  10. AARON CLOUSE says:

    I live in Hilton Head Island SC and we have some bugs here at my office that look like a leaf footed bug but they are big. They measure about 2″ long and have a proboscis. They are grey in color and move slowly. They do fly also. Any ideas on what they are. I’ve heard of kissing bugs being here but they aren’t the right color I don’t think. How can I send you a photo for you to identify it?

  11. Cory Gordon says:

    Do.these insects spit or spray a pheremone when threatened? I was walking by a pine tree in central La., i was sweating, felt a mist hit the aide.of my face, i took a step n smelled the odor of a stink bug like smell and it immediately starting burning so bad i had to get in nearby creek and wash it off. Went back to area and at my head level was a large insect that appears to look like this species. I took a picture of it but cant send a picture here. Would like to know your opinion. email.me at liftoshort@gmail.com

  12. Jaymie Vanmeter says:

    I live in Oklahoma. My wife just got bit by one of these leef footed insects. It was confirmed by our nearest nature center that the insect was a leaf footed bug. She slapped it not knowing what it was and it bit her. She shook it off and we kept it to have it inspected. It left a little needle tip sized mark and within 10 minutes it looked like a small blister.

    • bugman says:

      Leaf Footed Bugs are not considered aggressive, but they do have mouths designed to pierce plant skins to suck fluids. We suspect that in the event a Leaf Footed Bug was being swatted, it might bite and the bite is most likely painful.

  13. Fridae Ann says:

    I have this exact bug trapped, right now, underneath my metal lantern. I came out on my balcony to see what my kitten was so scared of. At the exact time I was walking out the bug pounced on him and bit his face. These bugs do bite, sting, stick a needle in you or whatever you want to call it. I live in Memphis, Tennessee and have a perfect picture of it.

    • Fridae Ann says:

      Also, before you even say it.. My kitten had not swatted at it or even attempted to mess with it. It was making a clicking noise and then just pounced.

  14. Guy C says:

    I live in Trinidad and we have loads of red and black leaf footed bugs on our Barbadine fruit. I brushed one off and felt like a razor blade cut my finger. No mark left but my finger swelled up to twice normal and it’s been like it for 6weeks. Doctor and MRI scan show bone infected so,am now on antibiotics. The local Trinis say to keep away from them as the ‘leaves’ on the back legs sting!

  15. gigi says:

    Hi I am in the catskills in new york. My house had somehow become infested with both the shield bug and leaf footed bug. I say infested as 2 landed on me while i was sleeping last night. I turned on the light and found 4 more. UGH. I am wondering if they could have overwintered in one of the many house plants i have? I’m about to toss my plants all outside because I cant find a source of where they are coming from. I ordered a safe neem spray and the second it gets here i’ll use it. Any other suggestions as what to do? And yes I have also been bit by them. Last week I was sitting at my desk doing paperwork when i felt a pinch on my foot, look down and theres one biting my foot. I’ve had my house 15 years and have never had this problem before. Help!

  16. Peggy says:

    Both my husband and I have been bitten by the Leptoglossus brevirostris. Large painful welts that last over 5 days. We were bitten while sleeping and never felt the bites until the next morning. I had problems breathing and had tight heart and painful heart muscles. My husband who is 86 is definitively weaker since being bitten. We have had blood tests which do not show an infection in either one of us. We have found only two of these bugs and have frozen them.

  17. Ian J says:

    About a week ago, I had a leaf-footed bug crawl up my leg and gouge a 1 inch long cut in my groin. It would seem that these bugs could carry parasites as they do bite people. Supposedly they do not bite humans a lot, but I have a hard time believing that. I thought, at first, that it was a kissing bug, but the leaves on its legs ruled that out. This bug was just plain mean and nasty.

    • Guy Cliffin says:

      My finger bite healed quickly but 2 years later it’s still noticeably wider than my other middle finger. Trust your bite wasn’t too tender or if it was the ‘swelling’ may be a plus!!!

  18. Rebecca says:

    My 5 year old was playing in the pool. A leaf footed bug landed on the back
    Of her neck and bit her! She was screaming and crying in pain. I trapped the bastard bug and did research. It’s a leaf footed bug. Stupid things do bite even though all info says they do not harm humans! Can’t always believe everything on the internet (just like the French model commercial lol) I live in western NY.

    • bugman says:

      While we would go on the record that Leaf Footed Bugs do not normally bite humans and that they are not considered to be venomous or harmful to humans, there do seem to be enough instances for us to comfortably agree that Leaf Footed Bugs are capable of biting humans.

  19. Ashley says:

    I live in NC and was just bitten by a leaf footed bug nymph. It got trapped in my pants and bit the back of my knee. I never took my pants off so fast in my life!! It stung for about 1-2 minutes and and then began itching just slightly and looked like a mosquito bite (kinda puffy). I saved it in a bag in case I needed to go to the hospital. It looked very threatening and intimidating with its hind end curved up. I was very relieved to know that it wasn’t venomous. I saw it’s stabby part and found it interesting that it stabbed me rather than bit me.

  20. Ian J says:

    I had one crawl up my shorts and chew a two inch bleeding gash up the side of my groin. I thought it was an assassin bug that carries a parasitic disease. The leaf footed bug looks like the assassin bug, except for the leaf shape on their feet. The internet stes write that leaf footed bugs do not bite, that is, obviously incorrect.

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