Leaf Footed Bugs

What is this bug found lounging on tomato
September 30, 2009
What is this bug? Beneficial or harmful? The “mother” is present on two of the attached photos.
Los Angeles

Immature Leaf Footed Bugs
Immature Leaf Footed Bugs

Hi Lori,
We are thrilled that your photo illustrates a multi-generational grouping of Leaf Footed Bugs in the genus Leptoglossus.  There are no adults in your photos.  Rather, these represent at least three different instars, the term used for a metamorphosis stage.  After each molt, the nymph grows and changes.  It is not until the reproductive adult stage is reached that the insect will grow wings that are fully functional.  We believe they are probably Leptoglossus zonatus which may be viewed on BugGuide.  We often find this species on our own tomatoes in our Mount Washington, Los Angeles garden, and on pomegranates growing in Elyria Canyon Park.  Here is the information posted to BugGuide on this sucking insect:  “Identification  Two yellowish spots on the forward part of the pronotum are distinctive. Also has a zigzagging white band across the wings (like some other species). Expansions of the hind tibiae are also much larger and more jagged than most other species.  Range  Primarily a southwestern species (including CA, AZ, TX) but now also spreading into southeastern states. First LA report 1990s. First FL report 2005.  Food  Feeds on flowers and fruits of many plants, including many crops such as citrus, tomatoes, and various members of the squash family.  Remarks  Considered a pest not only for the feeding damage on various crops but also as a transmitter of plant pathogens.

Hi Daniel,
Yes, that’s them! Thank you for the quick reply and identification.  I’m the only one I know that actually thinks they’re adorable.  I’m always fascinated by the critters that decide that my backyard is a hospitable place to take residence.   While they are considered pests, they have become members of the family the past week, so I’ll let them stay.  Unless you advise otherwise.
Question, if there are no adults, is that NOT the mother that’s been brooding over the kids?   OR is it possible that immature leaf-footed bugs can reproduce?

Hi Lori,
Earlier today, we posted an adult of the species found in Long Beach.  The immature nymphs cannot reproduce.  The behavior that you have labeled brooding is simply an aggregating tendency found in many True Bugs.  Since tomato plants only last one season, any pathogens spread to the plant would not affect next year’s crop of tomatoes.  We often let Tomato Hornworms and Katydids feed off of our plants.
We also do not disturb the Leaf Footed Bugs as they are never plentiful. We do mercilessly remove aphids, and the new African Painted Stink Bugs from our plants, and we try to keep our citrus clear of Citrus Leaf Miners.

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