Leaf Footed Bug vs Kissing Bug: Key Differences Explained

The leaf-footed bug and the kissing bug are often mistaken for one another due to their similar appearance. While both insects belong to the Hemiptera order, their behavior and impacts on humans differ significantly. Understanding these differences can help you identify them correctly and take necessary precautions if you encounter either of these bugs.

Leaf-footed bugs are mostly harmless insects found commonly in gardens, where they feed on plants. These bugs have elongated heads and unique “leaf-footed” extensions on their legs. Kissing bugs, on the other hand, earned their name because they tend to bite humans around the face and mouth area. These insects are nocturnal, dark brown or black, and also have an elongated head, which can lead to confusion between the two species. Importantly, some kissing bugs carry the Chagas parasite, which can be transmitted to humans through their bites and feces.

While both leaf-footed bugs and kissing bugs have a somewhat similar appearance, their impacts on humans differ markedly. Being able to identify these insects can help you both protect your garden and safeguard your health.

Leaf-Footed Bug and Kissing Bug Basics

General Characteristics

Leaf-footed bugs and kissing bugs are both insects in the suborder Heteroptera. While they share similarities, they also have unique traits:

Leaf-footed bugs:

  • Adult bugs have leaf-like paddles on their legs
  • Nymphs are orange to light brown and lack wings
  • Harmless to humans

Kissing bugs:

  • Six red-orange stripes on the abdomen
  • Can transmit Chagas disease through their feces
  • Bite humans around the mouth or eyes

Habitat and Distribution

Both leaf-footed bugs and kissing bugs can be found across Mexico, Latin America, Central America, and South America. They have distinct habitats within those regions:

Leaf-footed bugs:

  • Prefer gardens and crops
  • Commonly found on plants

Kissing bugs:

  • Prefer cracks and crevices in human-made structures
  • Found near potential mammal hosts (including humans)

Features Comparison:

Feature Leaf-Footed Bug Kissing Bug
Region Mexico, Latin America, Central America, South America Mexico, Latin America, Central America, South America
Habitat Gardens, crops Human-made structures, near mammal hosts
Appearance Leaf-like paddles on legs Six red-orange stripes on the abdomen
Harm to Humans Harmless Can transmit Chagas disease through their feces

Identification and Appearance

Leaf-Footed Bug Features

Leaf-footed bugs belong to the family Coreidae and have some distinct features for easy identification:

  • Elongated, pear-shaped body
  • Leaf-like hind leg extensions
  • Predominantly plant-feeders

A well-known example of a leaf-footed bug is the wheel bug, which has a characteristic dorsal wheel-shaped structure.

Kissing Bug Features

Kissing bugs, also known as conenose bugs, are part of the insect Order Hemiptera and differ from leaf-footed bugs in some aspects:

  • Range in size from 0.5 to over 1 inch (13.0 to 33.0 mm) in length
  • Long, cone-shaped head
  • Some have red-orange banding on their abdomen
  • Known for biting humans, possibly transmitting Chagas disease

The table below compares some key features of leaf-footed bugs and kissing bugs for easy identification:

Feature Leaf-Footed Bug Kissing Bug
Size varies 0.5 to over 1 inch
Head Shape elongated, pear-like long, cone-shaped
Hind Legs leaf-like extensions none
Feeding predominantly plants blood-sucking
Human Interaction Risks minimal potential Chagas disease transmission

By understanding their physical characteristics and behavior, distinguishing between leaf-footed bugs and kissing bugs can be done with relative ease.

Behavior and Feeding Habits

Leaf-Footed Bugs

  • Feeding habits: Leaf-footed bugs feed on fruits, plants, and seeds in gardens
  • Mammal & reptile interaction: They rarely interact with mammals or reptiles
  • Birds: Birds may eat them as a source of food
  • Piercing-sucking mouthpart: Their mouthparts pierce plant tissues for feeding
  • Nocturnal: They are typically active during the daytime

Leaf-footed bugs are often found in gardens, where they feed on fruits, plants, and seeds. Their piercing-sucking mouthparts allow them to extract nutrients from plant tissues. They are usually most active during the daytime and do not commonly interact with mammals or reptiles. However, birds may consume them.

Kissing Bugs

  • Feeding habits: Kissing bugs feed on blood from mammals and birds
  • Mammal & reptile interaction: They bite mammals and birds for feeding
  • Piercing-sucking mouthpart: Their mouthparts pierce skin to feed on blood
  • Reducviidae family: They belong to the Reduviidae family
  • Nocturnal: They are active at night, attracted by carbon dioxide exhaled by sleeping hosts

Kissing bugs are different from leaf-footed bugs, feeding on the blood of mammals and birds. Their piercing-sucking mouthparts allow them to pierce the skin of their hosts, which include mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles. They typically feed at night, attracted by the carbon dioxide released by their sleeping host. Kissing bugs belong to the Reduviidae family.

Comparison Table

Feature Leaf-Footed Bugs Kissing Bugs
Feeding Habits Fruits, plants Blood
Mammal & Reptile Interaction Rare Common
Birds Eaten by birds Feed on birds
Mouthpart Function Pierce Plant Tissues Pierce Skin
Reduviidae Family No Yes
Nocturnal No Yes

Infestation and Prevention

Recognizing Infestations

Leaffooted bugs and kissing bugs can both cause infestations in homes and crops. To recognize their infestations, look for these characteristics:

  • Leaffooted bugs:

    • Adults have leaf-shaped extensions on their hind legs.
    • Nymphs are deep orange to light brown and without leaf-footed extensions.
    • They feed on various plants, causing damage to fruits and seeds.
  • Kissing bugs:

    • Large, dark brown or black with patterns and markings on the abdomen.
    • As adults, they range from 0.5 to over 1 inch in length.
    • Primarily feed on the blood of mammals, often biting humans around the mouth.

Control Methods

To control these pests, consider the following:

  • Insecticides: Applying appropriate insecticides can help control infestations in crops and homes. Be sure to choose the right product for the specific pest to avoid harming beneficial insects.
  • Physical barriers: Install screens on windows and doors to prevent insects from entering homes.
  • Reduce hiding spots: Clear clutter and debris around homes and gardens to remove potential hiding areas for both bugs.
Feature Leaffooted Bug Kissing Bug
Main Feeding Method Plant fruits and seeds Mammal blood
Infestation Focus Crops Homes
Control Method Insecticides, barriers Insecticides, screens

In conclusion, to effectively prevent and control infestations of leaffooted bugs and kissing bugs, it’s essential to understand their unique characteristics and habits. By implementing proper control methods and taking preventative measures, you can protect both your home and crops from these pests.

Health Implications and Risks

Chagas Disease

Chagas disease is a major health concern associated with kissing bugs. This disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is transmitted to humans and animals through kissing bug bites. Kissing bugs primarily feed on blood at night, and the parasite is found in their feces1.

  • Infection: If a person unknowingly rubs the bug feces into the bite wound or a mucous membrane, they can become infected.
  • Symptoms: Chagas disease can cause flu-like symptoms, but many people do not show symptoms at all.
  • Treatment: If the disease is identified early, treatment with antiparasitic medications can be effective2.

Allergic Reactions

Some people may experience allergic reactions to the bites of both kissing bugs and leaf-footed bugs. Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include itching, redness, and swelling3. In severe cases, anaphylaxis can occur4.

  • Romana’s Sign: A specific allergic reaction to kissing bug bites called Romana’s Sign entails swelling of the eye or eyelid, usually on one side5.
Kissing Bugs Leaf-Footed Bugs
Associated Disease Chagas Disease None
Allergic Reactions Possible (incl. Romana’s Sign) Possible

In summary, both kissing bugs and leaf-footed bugs can cause allergic reactions, but kissing bugs are more dangerous due to their ability to transmit Chagas disease. Preventing contact with these bugs, particularly at night, is crucial for reducing health risks.

Kissing Bug Variations

Triatomine Bug

Triatomine bugs, also known as kissing bugs, are large, dark brown or black insects that belong to the Order Hemiptera. They vary in size, ranging from 0.5 to over 1 inch, depending on the species. Some key features include:

  • Patterns and markings on their abdomen
  • Mouthparts used for feeding on blood

Examples

  • Triatoma sanguisuga
  • Triatoma gerstaeckeri

The triatomine bug is known for transmitting Chagas disease, which can be contracted if their feces enter a person’s body through scratching the bite or touching their mouth or eye.

Cone-Nosed Bug

Cone-nosed bugs are another type of kissing bug, with similar characteristics to the triatomine bugs. They also transmit Chagas disease and showcase variations in colors, patterns, and markings, depending on the species.

Examples

  • Triatoma protracta
  • Triatoma rubida
Feature Triatomine Bug Cone-Nosed Bug
Order Hemiptera Hemiptera
Size 0.5 – 1 inch 0.5 – 1 inch
Chagas Disease Transmission Yes Yes

However, it’s essential to distinguish kissing bugs from similar insects. For example, squash bugs might look similar but have a short, triangular head and thinner mouthparts, making them harmless plant feeders, unlike the dangerous kissing bugs.

Related Insect Species

Bed Bug

  • Small, brown, and oval-shaped
  • Feed on human blood, often at night
  • Adults: 4-5mm long
  • Do not transmit diseases

Bed bugs are small, brown, oval-shaped insects that feed on the blood of humans and other animals. Adult bed bugs are 4-5mm long, and their nymphs are smaller. They are most active at night and do not transmit diseases. Examples of places where bed bugs might be found include hotels and apartments.

Squash Bug

  • Adults: 1.5cm long, brownish-gray
  • Feed on squash, pumpkin, and related plants
  • Can damage crops significantly
  • Eggs often laid on the underside of leaves

Squash bugs are adult insects that are about 1.5cm long, brownish-gray, and feed on squash, pumpkin, and related plants. They can cause significant damage to crops, especially in Texas. Squash bugs lay eggs on the underside of leaves, and their nymphs can also cause harm to plants.

Assassin Bug

  • Large, diverse family of insects
  • Predators of other insects
  • Some species can transmit diseases, such as Chagas disease
  • Not typically considered pests

Assassin bugs are a large, diverse family of insects that are predators of other insects, including pests like aphids and spiders. Some assassin bug species, like the kissing bug, can transmit parasitic infections such as Chagas disease. However, most assassin bugs are not considered pests and can be beneficial to the ecosystem.

Characteristics comparison table:

Insect Size Diet Habitat Diseases transmitted
Bed bug 4-5mm Human blood Hotels, homes None
Squash bug 1.5cm Squash, pumpkin Gardens, farms None
Assassin bug Varies Other insects Various Some species

In summary, while leaf-footed bugs and kissing bugs may share some similarities, they are distinct from bed bugs, squash bugs, and other assassin bugs. Knowing the differences among these species can help with identification and management strategies.

Footnotes

  1. Kissing Bugs and Chagas Disease – Texas A&M

  2. Chagas disease and Kissing Bugs – Department of Public Health & Environment

  3. Conenose (Kissing) Bugs and Chagas Disease – California Department of Public Health

  4. What You Should Know About Kissing Bugs – University of Arizona

  5. Chagas Disease – Mayo Clinic

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Cactus Coreid Bugs

 

Beatle type bug found on Prickly Pear Cactus – Dallas, Texas
Location:  Dallas, Texas
September 1, 2010 8:42 am
I found these bugs on my Prickly Pear Cactus in Dallas, Texas.
I have not seen them before and am curious what they are and what their purpose is. I.E. do they eat insects or my cactus?
My pictures are not very clear, but hopefully good enough for identification.
Sincerely, C

Cactus Coreid Bugs

Hi Sincerely, C,
These are Leaf Footed Bugs in the family Coreidae, and the common name, which uses an individualized name based on the family name, is Cactus Coreid.  The species is
Chelinidea vittiger, and according to BugGuide:  “In Australia, over 30,000,000 acres of pasture land were rendered useless because of dense stands of exotic prickly pear cacti. One of the native American cactus insects that showed early promise as a control agent was the coreid bug, Chelinidea vittiger Uhler. DeVol and Goeden (1973) discussed the value of this species in biological weed control and reported that it was ineffective in controlling prickly pears in Australia and Santa Cruz Island, California. In most areas of North America prickly pears are not a problem because a complex of insects keeps them under control. Chelinidea vittiger is considered a minor component of that complex. In Florida and the other southeastern states, the only Chelinidea present is C. vittiger aequoris McAtee.”  We can easily imagine a biological warfare experiment gone awry, that is not quite as horrific as one of our favorite movies by Guillermo del Toro called Mimic, where Cactus Coreid Bugs are infected with a virus (many Hemipterans carry viruses) to kill the cactus in Australia, and in a bizarre twist of alien exotic insects, the infected Cactus Coreids reenter the American West and threaten to wipe out the native population of cactus.  Your Cactus Coreids are immature nymphs without wings.  Adult Cactus Coreids, in addition to being pictured on BugGuide, are brown winged insects with white veins and an amber-orange abdomen that protrudes from the sides of the wings.  They have a white stripe down the center of the dorsal surface of the head.

Letter 2 – Cactus Coreid

 

Subject:  some sort of cactus bug
Geographic location of the bug:  south central texas
Date: 05/06/2018
Time: 05:50 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  i am familiar with cochineal scale, however these guys are also on spineless cactus…every year…and i have yet to identify them, perhaps they are instars…they do not seem to do a great deal of harm and seem shy and perhaps they do not sting or bite.  i admit to laziness about going through thousands of bug pictures on the off-hand chance i land upon them.  thanks for your time and trouble…seriously apprecate your site.
How you want your letter signed:  victoria

Cactus Coreid

Dear Victoria,
These are multiple instars or developmental stages of immature Cactus Coreids,
Chelinidea vittiger, which are pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “First eggs of the season are deposited in March, longitudinally on the underside of prickly pear spines. The egg laying period in each generation extends over two to three months, the rate of nymphal development varies considerably, and adults are long lived (nine to 12 months).” 

Letter 3 – Golden Eggs probably Coreid Bug Eggs

 

Subject: golden eggs
Location: barnwell, sc, usa
August 10, 2014 2:43 pm
Was curious as to what these might grow up to be? The seem to be iridescent. Found them on a clothes pin.
Signature: heather

Probably Coreid Bug Eggs
Probably Coreid Bug Eggs

Dear Heather,
We found a matching image on BugGuide to your golden eggs, and they are only identified to the family level of Coreidae, the Leaf Footed Bug family.

Letter 4 – Flag Footed Bug from Costa Rica

 

Subject: Leaf-footed bug?
Location: Orosi, COsta Rica
September 20, 2015 12:02 pm
Found this bug while walking in the mountains of Costa Rica.
There were several nearby.
Very unusual looking legs.
I had never heard of “leaf footed” bugs before but that certainly seams to define this one.
Can you identify!
Is it harmful to the farms?
Thank you.
Signature: BCR

Flag Footed Bug
Flag Footed Bug

Dear BCR,
Leaf Footed Bug is a non-specific family name for the group of True Bugs further classified in the family Coreidae, but several Central and South American species like your magnificent
Anisocelis flavolineata are commonly called Flag Footed Bugs because the tibiae of the hind legs are especially banner-like.  Like other True Bugs, Flag Footed Bugs have mouths adapted to piercing and sucking, and though we have not been able to determine a preferred food in our online searching, many images depict them on Passionflower Vines, so we suspect that might be a preferred food.

Letter 5 – Flag Footed Bug from Costa Rica

 

Another flag footed CR bug picture!
Location: Platanillo, Costa Rica
March 30, 2012 11:29 am
I took this picture this morning from my casa in the hills of Platanillo – isn’t he a beauty? I saw your other member’s picture when searching for the type of bug this may be. Can you tell me the official name of this lovely creature?
Signature: Paula

Flag Footed Bug

Hi Paula,
This gorgeous Flag Footed Bug,
Anisocelis flavolineata, is represented in our archive with this photo of a mating pair.  You may also verify its identity on Ribbit Photography.

Letter 6 – Coreid Bug

 

Bug query
Hello. We’ve found 2 of these bugs in our home so far. they resemble cockroaches with an elongated snout. They fly. Do you have any idea what they are? We have found them upstairs in our spare bedroom and our computer room in the window sill. They are apx 3/4 inch long. These were the best pictures that I could take. Thank you very much. I have looked on the ‘net to get an idea as I live in the lower mainland of BC. We have not found any in any food areas. We keep our kitchen clean. They have been found during the daytime. Thank you very very much.
Heather Lee

Hi Heather,
We have good news. They are not cockroaches, nor are they household pests. They are Coreid Bugs, also known as Leaf-Footed Bugs. They suck the juices from plants with that elongated mouthpart, and they are probably just seeking a place to hibernate inside your home. They will not infest your house.

Letter 7 – Heteropteran Eggs and Hatchlings: Probably Coreid Bugs

 

Some sort of treehopper?
… noticed the eggs on Tuesday, found the hatchlings on Wednesday … cheers,
Rich Parker (Alexandria, VA)

Hi Rich,
In a very general identification, these are Hemipterans. The Hoppers used to be considered a separate Order, Homoptera, but now Hemiptera and Homoptera are viewed as the same order, Hemiptera, and Heteroptera comprises the old classification and is termed the True Bugs. These are probably in the Family Coreidae, the Big Legged Bugs or Leaf Footed Bugs but newly hatched specimens are often very difficult to properly identify and we do not recognize the eggs. Perhaps you will be able to provide us with photos of adult specimens in the future which will assist in correct identification. BugGuide has a photo of your eggs, but with the same general identification we have provided.

Letter 8 – Coreid Bug

 

Tiger beetle??
Seen on my office window in Austin, Texas. About three inches long, total length. I am guessing some sort of Tiger Beetle. Hard to tell from photo, but a wild guess from you would be ok. Thanks,
Ron

Hi Ron,
Tiger Beetles are usually less than 3/4 inch long. This is a Coreid Bug. Great Photo.

Letter 9 – Coreid Bugs

 

Hi,
I have attached two pictures. The slightly out of focus one shows a large number of these bugs, mostly juvenile (I assume) and at least one of the larger ones (adult of the same species?) and the other photo shows just a few, but is sharper. These, as you can see, have been all over my tomatoes, and are also on my peppers and eggplants. Are they good bugs or bad? I am assuming bad, and have tried to kill them, but so far insecticidal soap and pyrethrum dust have both failed to do much damage. Any suggestions?
Thanks, Mary
Mary Elizabeth Word

Hi Mary,
It is difficult to be certain based on your photos, but I’m guessing you have a type of Coreid Bug, known as Big Legged Bugs or Leaf Footed Bugs. These include many plant pests including the Squash Bug, Anasa tristis. Be careful, they can bite.

Letter 10 – Costa Rican Coreid or Chincha

 

Costa Rican bug
Hi Bugman
Congratulations for your excellent website! Don’t know if you can also help me with some Central American bug… There is a bug in Costa Rica whose droppings are extremely acid, causing severe skin irritations: the spot first turns red, then blue the next day and then all the skin far around the spot gets full of blisters and after a week or so, peels off. They call it "chinche" here. I happened to make a picture of such a guy months before I made my own bad experiences with it. Do you have any idea what class of bug it is, or where could I find information?
Kind regards
Pia

Hi Pia,
Your bug is a True Bug from the Family Coreidae, The Big Legged Bugs or Leaf Footed Bugs. They are plant pests. In California we have a Western Leaf-footed Bug, Leptoglossus clypealus which is called the Chincha, which means “bug” in Spanish. There are also bugs known as Chinch Bugs in the Family Lygaeidae, the Seed Bugs. Hope that helps, though we can’t give you an exact species name.

Letter 11 – Western Conifer Seed Bug

 

unidentified here in ohio
i have no idea where this bug could have come from and have never seen one like it before. it is the 15th of December and this bug just flew out of nowhere here in the house. can you please help. i am 47 yrs old and this is a new one for me

This is a Coreid Bug, also known as a Big Legged Bug or Leaf Footed Bug. It appears to be the Western Conifer Seed Bug, but we are not positive.

Letter 12 – Flag Footed Bug from Costa Rica (but a different species?)

 

A Fabulous Bug on a Screen Door
Mon, Nov 10, 2008 at 11:49 AM
A Fabulous Bug on a Screen Door
This bug was sighted on a screen door at our home in San Martin Sur, Costa Rica–nearest larger town–Dominical, February, 2007. I love this bug and wonder if you can identify it for me.
Sincerely, Georgia Moen
San Martin Sur, Costa Rica

Flag Footed Bug
Flag Footed Bug

Hi Georgia,
While we are not certain of the species, we are thrilled to post your image of a Leaf Footed Bug in the family Coreidae from Costa Rica.  There is a species in Central America commonly called the Flag Footed Bug, Anisocelis flavolineata, that we identified in the past, but it is not the same as your specimen.  Interestingly, when we searched that scientific name, we found an image that matches your specimen, but it is on a photography site, not a science site.  We doubt it is the same species, but now we are a bit confused.  There is much questionable information posted online.

Update:  August 5, 2012
While trying to clean up old unidentified posts, we decided to see if we could find a matching photo for
Diactor bilineatus, and we were lucky with this TrekNature image where this information is provided:  “Diactor Bilineatus Percevejo d Maracujá:  Bug DIACTOR BILINEATUS the insect is the Diactor bilineatus, says the researcher of the Biological Institute of São Paulo, Sergio IDE It explains that it is about a species of chinch-bug popularly known as chinch-bug-do-maracujá. The adults reach up to 20 millimeters of length, are of green-dark coloration, with three orange lines that go of the head until escutelo. The posterior legs present an expansion in the tibia in leaf form of dark coloration and with orange points. The eggs are placed in the inferior face of leves, being that each position is composed in the maximum of ten eggs and the incubation period is of 15 days. The nymphs (young forms), say the researcher, suck the seiva of the aerial part of the plants during a period of 45 days and before if transforming into adults the nymphs they pass for urging. The longevity of the adult is of 30 days, of form that the complete cycle of the species they live approximately two months, depending on the climatic conditions. The nymphs of this species suck the seiva of the floral buttons and new fruits, and the adults also attack leves, branches and fruits of any age. The floral buttons and attacked new fruits generally fall and the greaters become wrinkled. The control can be made with the manual removal of eggs, nymphs and adults. Use of gloves sends regards to it to remove them.”

Letter 13 – Coreid Bug from Suriname: Pachylis pharaonis

 

Subject: bug in Suriname (South America)
Location: suriname
December 2, 2014 1:38 pm
Hi there,
My family in Suriname saw this colorful bug in their garden..
Do you know what it is?
Thanks a lot!
Sam (Holland)
Signature: sam

Probably Coreid Bug
Probably Coreid Bug

Dear Sam,
We are relatively certain that this True Bug is in the family Coreidae, the Leaf Footed Bugs, but we have not been able to identify it to the species level.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide a more specific identification.
  We tried unsuccessfully to identify it on Cesar Crash’s Brazilian site Insetologia.

Update:  December 5, 2014
Thanks to a comment by Cesar Crash, we now know that this is
Pachylis pharaonis.  It is pictured  on Coreoidae.speciesfile and on Animals Animals.

Letter 14 – Flag Footed Bug from Mexico

 

Subject: Yucatan bug
Location: Yucatan, mexico
June 3, 2015 4:00 pm
Hi found this strange looking bug on the balcony of our hotel in Akumal, mexico. I have no idea what it is which annoys me as I like to know what animals are 🙂 hope you identify it!
Signature: Matt

Flag Footed Bug
Flag Footed Bug

Hi Matt,
This spectacular insect is a Flag Footed Bug,
Anisocelis flavolineata, and the common name is because of the enlarged tibiae on the hind legs.  We will be out of the office for a spell in mid-June and we are postdating this posting to go live in our absence.

Hi Daniel, thanks for the prompt reply! Great to be able to put a name to it! So many weird and wonderful bugs to be found in Mexico, I knew I should have taken my Macro lens – so much harder using a manual lens reverse mounted!
Thanks again
Matt

Letter 15 – Hatchling Coreid Bugs

 

Subject: What are these bright-red bugs that are swarming a single lemon balm (herb) leaf in my garden in Birmingham, Alabama?
Location: Birmingham, Alabama, USA
August 20, 2015 12:47 pm
I was watering my garden in Birmingham, Alabama today (Aug. 20, 2015) and saw these small bright-red bug covering just one single leaf of our lemon balm (it’s an herb) plant. Does anyone know what they are? I have no clue, as I have never encountered them before.
Thank you!
Signature: Connor

Hatchling True Bugs
Hatchling True Bugs

Dear Connor,
These are hatchling True Bugs or Heteropterans, and hatchlings can be difficult to identify, but we suspect they are Leaf Footed Bug hatchlings in the family Coreidae.  See this BugGuide image for comparison.

Thank you so much! Great to know that they’re not a danger to humans, though our poor tomato garden showing makes more sense in light of this. Really appreciate the help.
Thanks,
Connor

Letter 16 – Big Legged Plant Bug is NOT Kissing Bug

 

Subject: Kissing Bug??
Location: Wetumpka, Alabama
November 29, 2015 10:53 am
Hi,
I found this bug in our backyard under the bedroom window. We live in Wetumpka, Alabama. Our backyard is rather “woodsy” — with a ton of trees and falling leaves. I’ve seen a lot of fuss over this ?kissing bug? in the news and on social media. I have a 6 month old lab who spends a quite of bit of time outside during the day. We are renting this home and have found that it is not adequately sealed and now I worry about an “infestation” of this bug in its wingless or larve form! Please let me know if this is in fact the” infamous” Kissing Bug. And if so how we can protect our home, family, & puppy. Thanks, Dee Capps
Signature: Dee Capps – Wetumpka, Alabama

Big Legged Plant Bug
Big Legged Plant Bug

Dear Dee,
You may release this benign Big Legged Plant Bug in the genus
Acanthocephala back into the woods.  It is not a Kissing Bug and it is no threat to you or your family.

Thank you SO much for your quick response. I am so glad that he wasn’t a kissing bug!

Letter 17 – Hatchling Leaf Footed Bugs, we believe

 

Subject: Red Bugs hatching from line of eggs
Location: Houston, Tx
April 10, 2016 9:29 am
Helloooooo
My wife, our 3 yr old and I would like some help identifying these interesting bugs we found hatching out of a line of eggs on our wooden gate.
Season: spring (April 10th)
Location: Houston, Tx
Signature: James, Carly and BoBo

Coreid Bug Hatchlings, we believe
Coreid Bug Hatchlings, we believe

Dear James, Carly and BoBo,
These are hatchling True Bugs in the suborder Heteroptera, and we believe they are hatchling Leaf Footed Bugs or Big Legged Bugs in the family Coreidae.  Hatchlings can be very difficult to identify to the species level.  Your individuals look like those represented in this BugGuide image. 

Coreid Bug Hatchlings, we believe
Coreid Bug Hatchlings, we believe

Letter 18 – Flag Footed Bug from Brazil: Diactor bilineatus

 

Subject: Whats this bug
Location: Brasil / sao paulo
July 6, 2016 9:25 am
Found in brasil / sao paulo
Best regards!
Signature: Eduardo k

Flag Footed Bug
Flag Footed Bug

Dear Eduardo,
This amazing insect is a Flag Footed Bug,
Diactor bilineatus, and according to TrekNature:  “The longevity of the adult is of 30 days, of form that the complete cycle of the species they live approximately two months, depending on the climatic conditions. The nymphs of this species suck the seiva of the floral buttons and new fruits, and the adults also attack leves, branches and fruits of any age.”

Thankyou very much!
It is a plague for passion fruit crops!
My best regards!
Eduardo Korkes

Hello again Eduardo,
From what we have read, passion fruit is the known host for this Flag Footed Bug.

Letter 19 – Flag Footed Bug from Costa Rica

 

Subject: neon orange bug in Costa Rica with cool patterns
Location: Costa Rica
September 23, 2016 3:06 pm
Hola, My husband and I moved to Costa Rica a year and a half ago. We spend a lot of time photographing animals, wildlife and insects. Here is an interesting neon orange bug we came across with an interesting pattern. Any idea what kind of bug this is? We took this photo near the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica on the Pacific side. Gracias!
Kari P Silcox
www.happycoconutstravelblog.com
Signature: Kari Pinkerton Silcox

Flag Footed Bug
Flag Footed Bug

Dear Kari,
This spectacular insect goes by the very descriptive name Flag Footed Bug,
Anisocelis flavolineata.

Thank you so much for the quick reply!
Kari

Letter 20 – Hatchling Leaf Footed Bugs

 

Subject: Some sort of aphid or ant?
Location: Birmingham Alabama
March 29, 2017 9:25 am
These guys hatched from a perfectly straight row of connected eggs. Each insect is about 1 centimeter long. This was on the inside widow ledge of my apartment in urban Birmingham Alabama.
Signature: Allison Martin

Hatchling Leaf Footed Bugs

Dear Allison,
These are hatchling Leaf Footed Bugs in the family Coreidae, and most likely in the genus
Leptoglossus.

Letter 21 – Eastern Leaf Footed Bug

 

Subject:  A different yucca bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Carrollton GA – 50 mi w of atl
Date: 09/20/2017
Time: 10:34 AM EDT
This critter is about an inch long. There is at least on for every blossom on my yucca. Never seen em before. Are they harmful and do I need to do something about them?
I planted this yucca when it was the size of a basketball – now it’s five plants. This is the first year it has had more than one spike. The tallest one came first by a couple of weeks.
How you want your letter signed:  Allen

Eastern Leaf Footed Bug

Dear Allen,
This is a Leaf Footed Bug in the genus Leptoglossus, and we are pretty certain it is the Eastern Leaf Footed Bug,
Leptoglossus phyllopus, a species that according to BugGuide is:  “polyphagous; most common on thistle in FL, and on Yucca in KS” and “may damage a number of crops (esp. citrus, tomatoes) and ornamentals.”

Letter 22 – Flag Footed Bug from Mexico

 

Subject:  Orange bug with wing-like things on legs
Geographic location of the bug:  NAYARIT MEXICO
Date: 10/26/2018
Time: 12:50 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  hello, I am on the Pacific coast of Mexico and have recently encountered a special bug that ive never seen before. There are many enjoying my passionfruit vine, can you help me identify please.
How you want your letter signed:  Katie

Flag Footed Bug

Dear Katie,
This is a Flag Footed Bug, probably
Anisocelis flavolineata, though your ventral view does not show the pattern on the wings.  Also, the color on your individual appears light, causing us to suspect it might have just molted and it has not yet darkened in tone.

Flag Footed Bug

Letter 23 – Hatchling Leaf Footed Bugs

 

Subject: red ant like bug?
Geographic location of the bug: Waxhaw NC
Date: 05/09/2019
Time: 02:56 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: these guys were on my screen about 5.5 feet up on a deck.I’ve never seen anything like them and the segmented strand looks like what they may have hatched from?
How you want your letter signed : Kathy

Hatchling Leaf Footed Bugs

Dear Kathy,
These are hatchling Leaf Footed Bugs from the family Coreidae.

Letter 24 – Flag Footed Bug from Panama

 

Subject:  Strange bug on driveway
Geographic location of the bug:  Highlands of Rep of Panama,Boquete specifically
Date: 09/28/2019
Time: 10:24 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Could you please look at this and identify him/her. Suggestion given by neighbours is a harlequin bug but I don’t think so, the ‘leaves’ on the legs don’t seem to be on any photos I looked at for Harlequins.
How you want your letter signed:  Carol

Flag Footed Bug

Dear Carol,
This is a Flag Footed Bug, 
Anisocelis flavolineata.  The species is pictured on Project Noah.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

13 thoughts on “Leaf Footed Bug vs Kissing Bug: Key Differences Explained”

  1. Hi, these bugs are awsome, I’m doing a project at school on Leaf/ Flag Footed. can anyone tell me what their habitat is and their life cycle.

    Reply
  2. Google for flag-footed bug life cycle – lots of sites, but more pictures than information, unfortunately. They appear to thrive in Costa Rica due to the cloud forest environment and take 6 weeks or so to become adults. Absolutely stunning bugs, and I see a whole lot of amazing bugs here in CR. Good luck on your project!

    Reply
  3. I too found golden eggs like those in the post. As they became closer to hatching they turned red and the nymphs that hatched look like leaf footed bugs that were red with black hairy spines on their bodies and long antennae, and now a week later they have turned completely black.

    Reply
  4. Found this bug in Tortuguero Costa Rica and yes it was on top of a passion fruit vine flower,very beautiful appeared to wave its flag footed legs to scare away other small flying insects saw 2 of them butt to butt appeared to be mating but that’s only my guess as I have never encountered them before

    Reply

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