Tomato Plant Bug
June 19, 2011 8:22 am
I found some of these bugs on my tomato plants and haven’t been able to identify them. The bug is about an inch long, and has what appears to be a piercing mouth part (not visible in this photo). They can fly.
Just yesterday, we posted several photos of this species of Leaf Footed Bug, Leptoglossus zonatus, that were submitted by a reader from South Pasadena California. Those images were an update from a previous posting that is documenting the stages of the incomplete metamorphosis of this species. According to BugGuide: “Two yellowish spots on the forward part of the pronotum are distinctive” and this distinguishing feature is very clearly visible in your photograph. According to BugGuide, it is: “Very polyphagous, and can damage many fruit, vegetable, and field crops.
It feeds on the flowers and fruit of its host plants, which include oranges, limes, guava, avocado, pomegranate, melons, cotton, sorghum, corn, tomato, cucurbits, eggplant, and Chinese tallow” and it is “Considered a pest not only for the feeding damage on various crops but also as a transmitter of plant pathogens.” The original range for Leptoglossus zonatus, includes the southwestern states of California, Arizona and east to Texas as well as south through Mexico to Brazil, but it is “now spreading into southeastern states.” It was first reported in Louisiana in 1996 and in Florida in 2005. The species has the potential to severely affect many agricultural crops in Florida. In California, we find this species on pomegranate. The piercing mouthparts are used to inject an enzyme or other substance into the fruit causing unsightly blemishes as well as degraded quality to the flesh of the fruit. This is our own first hand observation, and not something we have read in any literature.
Thank you for your quick reply and help! Yes, that’s my bug! I’d never seen anything like it before. I had gotten as far as figuring that it was in the True Bugs group, but that was all. I looked at photos on your site of immature Leaf Footed Bugs and immediately recognized them–I saw some of them on my tomato plants at one point, but never would have associated those little reddish orange bugs with the big brown ones I’m seeing now.