What Do Leaf Footed Bugs Eat: A Friendly Guide to Their Diet

Leaf-footed bugs are medium to large-sized insects that have a unique feature – small, leaf-like enlargements on their hind legs. They belong to the Coreidae family and can be quite a nuisance in your garden as they feed on a variety of plant parts, particularly seeds. These pests use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to extract nutrients from fruits, fruiting vegetables, nuts, and even ornamentals, causing damage to buds, flowers, and seeds in the process.

You might spot leaf-footed bug nymphs and adults in your garden, where they tend to feed on an array of plants like tomatoes, peaches, blueberries, beans, okra, and pecans. However, don’t confuse them with assassin bugs, which are beneficial insects that prey on other pests. Distinguishing between these two types of insects is essential to protecting the good bugs that help your garden thrive.

Keep an eye out for the golden-brown eggs of leaf-footed bugs, which are laid in single rows or chains along stems or on the underside of leaves. By identifying and managing these pests early on, you can minimize the damage they cause to your plants and maintain a healthier garden ecosystem.

What are Leaf Footed Bugs

Leaf footed bugs belong to the insect family Coreidae, which is part of the suborder Heteroptera. They are named for their distinctive hind legs that feature leaf-like extensions on their abdomen. These extensions can be found on most members of the Coreidae family, but are particularly noticeable in the genus Leptoglossus.

Leaf footed bugs undergo metamorphosis, transforming from nymphs to adults. As they grow, their antennae elongate and their flat abdomen expands. These insects are generally dark-colored, but some species showcase tan, orange, or yellowish hues with contrasting colors.

Here are some key features of leaf-footed bugs:

  • Hind legs with leaf-like extensions
  • Elongated antennae
  • Flat abdomen
  • Part of the insect family Coreidae
  • Metamorphosis from nymph to adult

These bugs are known to feed on a variety of plants. For example, they can be found on fruits, fruiting vegetables, nuts, and ornamentals. They use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to feed on plant parts, especially seeds. This can often cause damage to the plants they inhabit. Nevertheless, it is essential to remember that not all leaf-footed bugs are pests – some members of the family, like Coreinae and Acanthocephala, may actually be beneficial to your garden, as they prey on other harmful insects.

In summary, leaf-footed bugs are an interesting group of insects belonging to the family Coreidae. They are characterized by their distinctive hind legs with leaf-like extensions and their ability to undergo metamorphosis. While some leaf-footed bugs can be harmful to plants, others can act as natural pest control, making them valuable additions to your garden.

Life Cycle of Leaf Footed Bugs

Eggs and Nymphs

Leaf footed bugs begin their life cycle as eggs laid by adult females. The eggs are typically golden brown and laid in a single row or chain, often found along a stem or on the underside of a leaf1. Once the eggs hatch, the nymphs emerge and begin feeding on plants. These nymphs undergo several stages of metamorphosis, each stage marked by a molt. During this process, their appearance will change, starting with dark legs and transitioning to display more orange-red coloration on their bodies.

Adulthood

Upon reaching adulthood, leaf footed bugs continue their plant-eating habits while also seeking mates. Adult leaf footed bugs are large insects, measuring around 0.75 to 1 inch in length2. They have a distinctive appearance, with a narrow white zigzag band across their back and a round yellow spot on each shoulder. The bug’s hind legs exhibit the characteristic leaf-like enlargements from which it derives its name. These bugs are good flyers and often make a noisy buzzing sound when they take flight3.

Overwintering

During the colder months, leaf footed bugs engage in a process known as overwintering. In this phase, adult bugs seek shelter from the low temperatures, often hiding in plant debris, leaf litter, or other protective areas2. As the weather warms, the adults will emerge from their overwintering sites, ready to mate and begin the life cycle anew. By understanding the life stages of leaf footed bugs, you can better recognize their behavior and take appropriate action if you encounter them in your garden or crops.

Leaf Footed Bugs’ Diet

Leaf footed bugs are known for their plant-eating habits. Their diet mainly consists of various plant parts, particularly seeds. For instance, they feed on fruits, fruiting vegetables, nuts, and even ornamentals. With their piercing-sucking mouthparts, they can draw out sap, juices, and nutrients from plant tissues quite easily.

These bugs thrive on a wide range of plants. Some examples include tomatoes, peaches, blueberries, beans, okra, and pecans. In fact, their feeding habits can lead to damage in buds, flowers, fruits, and seeds of these plants1.

Here is a comparison table of some plant types and their affected parts:

Plant Type Affected Plant Parts
Tomatoes Buds, fruits, seeds
Peaches Buds, fruits, seeds
Blueberries Flowers, fruits
Beans Seeds, pods
Okra Buds, fruits
Pecans Nuts, seeds

So, while tending to your garden, keep an eye out for leaf footed bugs. Remember, maintaining a healthy balance of insects is crucial for the well-being of your plants.

Distribution of Leaf Footed Bugs

Leaf footed bugs are commonly found in various parts of North America, including Florida. Their distribution spans across temperate and tropical regions, making them a quite diverse and adaptable insect species.

In North America, these bugs are known to inhabit a range of climates and environments, reflecting their versatility as a species. For instance, they can be found in Missouri, as well as in warmer regions like Florida.

As a result, you might encounter different species of leaf footed bugs depending on where you live. Some leaf footed bugs prefer specific climates and environments, while others are more adaptable and can thrive in various settings. Make sure you keep an eye out for these insects in your gardens and fields, as they might pose a threat to some of your plants.

Effects on Plants and Crops

Garden and Ornamental Plants

Leaf-footed bugs can cause considerable damage to your garden and ornamental plants. They feed on the plant juices, which can result in cosmetic damage. For example, they can cause leaf curling or yellowing. Some ornamentals that might be targeted by these insects include roses, hibiscus, and bougainvillea.

Fruits and Vegetables

In addition to ornamental plants, leaf-footed bugs can also cause problems for your fruits and vegetables. They can cause damage, loss, and cosmetic issues to popular produce like tomatoes, beans, okra, and watermelons. For example, when these bugs feed on fruits such as citrus, berries, and plums, they can create undesirable spotting or scarring on the fruit surface. Sometimes, this may lead to the fruit being inedible.

Grains and Nuts

Leaf-footed bugs have a wide range of food preferences and are known to target grains and nuts as well. Some examples include almonds, pistachios, pecans, and other nuts. When they feed on these plants, they can cause considerable damage and even reduce the yields and overall quality.

Grains/Nuts Damage Caused
Almonds Reduced yields, cosmetic damage, cracked shells
Pistachios Loss of nuts, deformed or hollow kernels
Pecans Poor nut quality, reduced yields, shell damage

Crops

These insects can also be problematic to larger scale agricultural crops like pomegranates and okra. They can cause damage to leaves, flowers, and fruits reducing the overall crop yield and quality. It’s important to monitor and manage their populations to avoid significant economic loss due to these pests.

To conclude, keeping an eye out for leaf-footed bugs and employing appropriate control measures is essential toprotect your garden and agricultural crops, ensuring that you get the best possible harvest.

Control and Prevention

Using Chemical Measures

If you’re dealing with a leaf-footed bug infestation, you can consider using chemical measures to control them. For example, insecticidal soap can be effective against these pests. This natural, non-toxic solution can help you manage the bug population in your garden without posing much risk to your plants or the environment.

However, if the infestation is severe, you might require stronger treatments such as broad-spectrum insecticides. Keep in mind, broad-spectrum insecticides can harm beneficial insects and should be used as a last resort. When using any chemicals, always follow the label instructions to ensure proper usage and safety.

Natural Control Methods

Natural control methods can be effective in managing leaf-footed bug populations. Some strategies include:

  • Mechanical Control: Using row covers is a straightforward way to protect your plants from these pests. These physical barriers can prevent infestations while allowing sunlight and water to pass through.

  • Attracting Natural Enemies: Encouraging the presence of beneficial insects, birds, spiders, and other predators can help keep leaf-footed bugs in check. For instance:

    • Ladybugs
    • Assassin bugs
    • Lacewings
  • Manual Removal: Inspecting your plants regularly and hand-picking any leaf-footed bugs you spot can help keep their numbers down. Dispose of them in a bucket of soapy water to ensure they don’t return.

Remember, a combination of these natural control methods can be more efficient in managing a leaf-footed bug infestation in your garden. Monitor the situation and adjust your strategy accordingly to protect your plants from these pesky pests.

Leaf Footed Bugs Vs. Similar Insects

Leaf-footed bugs are a type of plant-eating insect that can sometimes be confused with other insects, such as assassin bugs, stink bugs, squash bugs, and stinkbug relatives. In this section, we’ll cover some of the key differences between these various insects and provide examples of each type.

One notable difference between leaf-footed bugs and assassin bugs is the shape of their legs. In leaf-footed bugs, many have a flattened, leaf-like extension on their hind legs. Assassin bugs, on the other hand, lack these extensions. Unlike leaf-footed bugs, assassin bugs are predators and feed on other insects, making them beneficial to have in your garden.

Stink bugs closely resemble leaf-footed bugs in appearance and are also considered plant-feeding pests. Both the leaf-footed bugs and stink bugs emit a foul odor when disturbed, making them somewhat similar. However, one way to distinguish between these two is their body shape. Stink bugs are typically shield-shaped, while leaf-footed bugs have a more elongated body.

Squash bugs may also be mistaken for leaf-footed bugs, but they mainly target cucurbit plants like squash and pumpkins. They typically have gray or brown bodies that are about 0.5-inch in length, without any leaf-like leg extension.

In summary, some key differences between leaf-footed bugs and similar insects include:

  • Leg extensions: Present in leaf-footed bugs, absent in most other similar insects.
  • Diet: Leaf-footed bugs are plant-feeders, while assassin bugs are predators.
  • Body shape: Leaf-footed bugs have elongated bodies, while stink bugs are shield-shaped.

Comparing leaf-footed bugs and similar insects:

Insect Leg Extensions Diet Body Shape
Leaf-Footed Bug Yes Plant-feeding Elongated
Assassin Bug No Predatory Various
Stink Bug No Plant-feeding Shield-shaped
Squash Bug No Plant-feeding Gray or brown

By understanding the differences between leaf-footed bugs and these other similar insects, you can better identify them in your garden and take appropriate steps for each type of insect.

Leaf Footed Bugs and Disease

Leaf-footed bugs are plant-eating insects that have an impact on several types of plants. They use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to feed on various plant parts, particularly seeds1. Let’s see the connection between these bugs and plant diseases.

When leaf-footed bugs attack plants, they’re not just munching away. They also have the potential to transmit some diseases. For example, in certain cases, these insects might carry viruses that can spread to your plants and cause problems2. It’s essential to be aware of these risks and take action to protect your plants.

Some common plants that leaf-footed bugs target include tomatoes, peaches, blueberries, beans, okra, and pecans3. The bugs can cause damage to buds, flowers, fruits, and seeds, leading to problems in plant health and development. When they feed on tomato fruit, they may cause hardened and yellow spots4.

To keep your plants healthy, here are some ways to manage leaf-footed bugs:

  • Monitor your garden for signs of infestation: Look for bugs and their nymphs on your plants.
  • Remove infected plants: If bugs or diseases infest a plant, it’s better to remove the plant to prevent further spread.
  • Use natural predators: Introducing beneficial insects such as assassin bugs will help keep leaf-footed bug populations under control5.
  • Employ physical barriers: Using row covers or netting can help keep these insects away from your plants.
  • Try approved insecticides: If necessary, use insecticides labeled for use on leaf-footed bugs following the recommended guidelines.

As you can see, these plant-eating insects can cause a number of issues for your garden. By managing their populations and understanding the potential diseases they transmit, you can take steps to keep your plants healthy and thriving.

Identification of Leaf Footed Bugs

Leaf footed bugs are named for their distinct back legs, which often feature flattened, leaf-like extensions called hind tibiae. These insects are usually dark-colored, but can also be tan, orange, or yellowish with contrasting markings. They typically measure around half to three quarters of an inch long1 and can be found on various plants.

To identify leaf footed bugs, look for the following characteristics:

  • Cylindrical body shape
  • Inch-long size
  • Dark or contrasting coloration
  • Leaf-like expansions on the hind legs

These insects lay golden-brown eggs that are easy to spot since they are often laid in a single row or chain along a plant stem or on the underside of a leaf2.

When comparing leaf-footed bugs, keep an eye on the specific markings and colors. For example, the eastern leaf-footed bug, Leptoglossus phyllopus, usually has a noticeable white line across the back of its wings3.

Remember, leaf footed bugs are good flyers and often make a noisy buzzing sound as they fly. If you disturb one, be aware that many species release a bad odor as a defense mechanism1.

To sum up, identifying leaf footed bugs comes down to recognizing their unique leg expansions, coloration, size, and flight behavior. Once you’re familiar with these features, spotting these insects in your garden or on your plants should be a breeze.

Footnotes

  1. Leaffooted Insect Pests – Gardening Solutions – University of Florida 2 3 4 5

  2. Leaffooted Bug Management Guidelines–UC IPM – ucanr.edu 2 3 4

  3. Leaf-Footed Bugs | Missouri Department of Conservation 2 3

  4. https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/care/pests-and-diseases/pests/leaffooted-insect-pests.html

  5. https://extension.uga.edu/content/dam/extension/programs-and-services/integrated-pest-management/documents/insect-pdfs/leaffoot.pdf

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 – Big Legged Plant Bug

 

Greyish, Flying, Huge bug!
Sat, Mar 7, 2009 at 2:02 PM
My husband and I live in Northwest, Florida and we just moved into a place that is in a pretty wooded area. Right now its about 70 degrees outside. But almost everytime we get into our car we see one of these bugs!! There always on the outside of the windows and today I saw one above the door! These bugs freak me out, can they hurt me?
B. McClellan
Northwest Florida

Big Legged Plant Bug
Big Legged Plant Bug

Hi B.,
This is a Big Legged Plant Bug or Leaf Footed Bug in the family Coreidae and the genus Acanthocephala.  We believe it is Acanthocephala declivis based on the range and description on B ugGuide, though we would not rule out another member of the genus since the distinctive tubercles mentioned on BugGuide are not visible in your somewhat dark photo.  Other members of the genus can also be viewed on BugGuide.  The Big Legged Plant Bugs suck the juices from plants and are no direct threat to humans.

Letter 2 – Big Legged Plant Bug

 

Nawlins Beetle
Location: French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana
November 12, 2010 2:49 am
This beetle was slowly making its way up a pipe on the side of a house in the French Quarter of New Orleans, LA, around 1:30pm on November 11th 2010 (temp was approx 70°F). Please help me identify this amazing looking critter!
As you can see, it appears that one hind leg is longer/thicker than the other one. Might you know a reason for this? And are there any clues as to approximately how old he/she is?
Any info would be greatly appreciated, thank you!
Signature: KT

Big Legged Plant Bug

Dear KT,
This is a Big Legged Plant Bug in the genus
Acanthocephala.  There are several species that may be found in Louisiana and we are reluctant to commit to an exact species identification, however, you may check BugGuide for the possibilities.  We believe the angle of view and the difference in perspective has created the illusion that the two hind legs are of a different size.  We would guess that this adult hatched this past spring.

Letter 3 – Big Legged Plant Bug: Possibly Florida Leaf Footed Bug

 

moth like waterbug?
Location: tidewater area (virginia)
November 16, 2010 5:02 pm
This bug is hanging out at my front door. We live in Hampton, VA. Its fall, a little chilly out, today we had some light rain fall. This bug is big, about 2 inches long, with really big waterbug like legs. It appears to have wings. It is dark gray/black color with a white head. It kind of looks like a big moth with really long creepy legs.
Signature: MommaJackson

Big Legged Plant Bug

Hi MommaJackson,
This is really a Big Legged Plant Bug in the genus
Acanthocephala.  According to BugGuide:  “Any Acanthocephala found north of NC must be A. terminalis“, but, on the BugGuide species page for Acanthocephala terminalis, you will read:  “Apical segment of antenna orange or yellowish, contrasting sharply with the basal three segments, which are dark; flange on hind tibia wavy-margined, narrowing distally and extending only two-thirds the length of the tibia; pronotum with small but distinct tubercles present, surface with covering of golden hairs; abdomen sinuate in outline, the sides of the abdomen bulging outward beyond the wings when viewed from above (these last three characteristics distinguish A. terminalis from A. confraterna). We are more inclined to believe your specimen is the Florida Leaf Footed Bug, Acanthocephala femorata, which is described on BugGuide as:  “Antennae uniformly colored (i.e. all antennal segments are the same color: dull reddish or orangish); flange on hind tibia gently tapering distally; male hind femur greatly swollen and bearing a large spike; female hind femur slender and bearing several small spikes.”  That is our inclination because of the uniform antennae color as well as the hind legs.

Letter 4 – Big Legged Plant Bug or Florida Leaf Footed Bug

 

Subject: Leaf footed bug?
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
August 16, 2015 12:31 pm
Could you identify this guy for me? I did some research and the closest thing to him that I’ve found is a leaf footed bug. He was found at an apartment complex in June, middle of the day, and was stationary on the hand railing in an urban area. The railing in the picture is 2/3 inches thick. Thanks in advance!
Signature: B.G.

Big Legged Bug
Big Legged Plant Bug

Dear B.G.,
You are correct in a very general way.  You are correct that this is a Leaf Footed Bug, but that is a general name for a member of a family that in North America, according to BugGuide, numbers “88 spp. in 33 genera north of Mexico, just over 1000 spp. in 165 genera in the New World, ~1,900 spp. in ~270 genera worldwide.”  It is a member of the genus
Acanthocephala, a genus with four species in North America according to BugGuide which provides the names “Big-footed or Big-legged Plant Bug.”  We believe this is a female Florida Leaf Footed Bug,  Acanthocephala femorata based on this BugGuide description:  “Antennae uniformly colored, dull reddish or orangish; flange on hind tibia gently tapering distally; male hind femur greatly swollen and bearing a large spike; female hind femur slender and bearing several small spikes.”

Letter 5 – Big Legged Bug, Not Starship Troopers Bug

 

Subject: Starship Trooper Bug
Location: South Carolina
November 30, 2014 6:55 pm
So I’m pretty sure that I stumbled across the predecessor to the bug that starred in the movie Starship Troopers today. *But slightly smaller.
We had several sightings of this same type of bug throughout the day today so I wasn’t completely shocked when one showed up right in my face while I was hanging Christmas lights. I collected myself (no girlish screams I promise) and knew what Casper Van Deen’s character must have felt like.
My 5 yr old son was with me and of course demanded to know what type of bug it was… so far “not a cockroach” is the best I can come up with. Stink bug was also a suspect but google thinks not.
Signature: Johnny Rico

Big Legged Bug
Big Legged Bug

Dear Johnny,
This Big Legged Bug, probably Acanthocephala declivis based on this image on BugGuide, does somewhat resemble the Starship Trooper Bug, but not as much as this Wheel Bug nymph.

Starship Troopers Bug
Starship Troopers Bug

 

Letter 6 – Big Legged Bug from Hawaii

 

Subject:  What kind of bug is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  oahu,Hi
Date: 01/19/2018
Time: 01:34 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Just would like to know what it is.
How you want your letter signed: Sam

Big Legged Bug

Dear Sam,
This is a Big Legged Bug or Leaf Footed Bug in the family Coreidae.  Many insects in Hawaii are not native, and it is very likely that this is an introduced species.  Except for being darker, it really resembles the Sweet Potato Bug,
Physomerus grossipes, pictured on Graham’s Island where it states it:  “is a fairly recent introduction to Hawaii, most likely sneaking in on an imported plant. It’s from the family Coreidae, otherwise known as leaf footed bugs. It feeds by sucking juices out of various plants, including sweet potatoes. I found this one wandering across a window screen, some distance from anything edible.”  The images on Encyclopedia of Life also look very similar, but the images on the highly entertaining posting No Thighmaster Needed by This Bug on Hawaii Horticulture appear to be a different species in the family.

Big Legged Bug

 

Letter 7 – Big Legged Plant Bug

 

Subject: A bug I found outside last night on my trash can
Location: Tennessee
April 6, 2017 8:15 am
Can u please tell me what kind of bug this is? It was huge and everyone keeps saying assassin or kissing bug…but I don’t think it is…it looked like a huge stink bug…but I’ve never seen one this big!
Signature: Gina

Big Legged Plant Bug

Dear Gina,
This is a Big Legged Plant Bug in the genus
Acanthocephala, probably Acanthocephala declivis which is pictured on BugGuide.  Big Legged Plant Bugs and Stink Bugs are both classified in the same suborder, Heteroptera, hence your observation regarding their similarities.

Thank u so much for the info…glad it wasn’t one of the other dangerous ones!!

Letter 8 – Mating Big Legged Bugs in genus Narnia

 

Can you tell what this bug is?
This is a Hemiptera bug in the the family ‘Coreidae’ I think. I found it in Phoenix, AZ on a cactus. Do you know the species?
Thanks

We are trying to answer some old letters and were challenged at the prospect of identifying your mating Coreids. As we turned to BugGuide, we noticed you had posted the image and it was identified as being in the genus Narnia.

Letter 9 – Cactus Coreid Bug

 

Green True Bug in Joshua Tree Park
April 6, 2010
I spotted this true bug on a beavertail cactus in the Southern part of Joshua Tree National Park (border of Mohave and Sonoran deserts, in California). Can’t seem to identify it, either from my (admittedly limited) bug books or online references.
Any ideas?
John Thomas
Joshua Tree National Park, California

Cactus Coreid Bug

Dear John,
We have posted photos of the nymphs in the past, but this may be the first image we have posted of an adult Cactus Coreid, Chelinidea vittiger which can be viewed on BugGuide.

How very cool!  The idea of being the first anything at whatsthatbug.com is pretty cool, too.
Not to keep asking after things, but do you mean that the several images of tan & near-black shown at BugGuide are all nymphs, and the green one I found was an adult?
Many thanks for solving my bug mystery for me!
John

Hi John,
The nymphs do not have wings.  You may use our site search engine to locate previous postings of this species on WTB? to compare what the nymphs look like.

Letter 10 – Tip Wilter from South Africa

 

wtb
Location: Johannesburg South Africa
December 9, 2010 8:08 pm
found this little guy in my garden in Johannesburg South Africa and wondered what it was……please help
Signature: dryzie

Tip Wilter

Dear dryzie,
This is a Big Legged Bug in the family Coreidae, but we are not certain of the species.  Because of their enlarged tibiae, insects in the family Coreidae are also known as Leaf Footed Bugs or Flag Footed Bugs.  We are not certain of the genus or species.  Most if not all members of the family feed upon plants.  The Biodiversity Explorer website of the web of life in Southern Africa indicates that insects in the family Coreidae are known as Tip Wilters, but your species is not represented on the site.

Letter 11 – Big Legged Plant Bug

 

I found this in my living room
Location: Central Texas
December 14, 2010 1:55 am
Hi! I found this bug in my livingroom recently and I can’t find out what it is on google. I recently purchased a lilly, I’m not sure if it maybe came with it.
What do you think?
Signature: Thanks! – Lee

Big Legged Plant Bug

Dear Lee,
This is one of the Big Legged Plant Bugs in the genus
Acanthocephala.  Sadly, your species, Acanthocephala declivis, which we identified on BugGuide, does not have a common name.  Other members of the family Coreidae are known as Leaf Footed Bugs and Flag Footed Bugs, and one species in the family, the Western Conifer Seed Bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis, has been expanding its range across the Palaearctic  and Nearctic ecozones of the world.

Letter 12 – Big Legged Bug from South Africa: Twig Wilter

 

Need tyo know which bug is this?
Location: Northwest Province, South Africa
January 12, 2011 1:00 am
The pics were taken in Pilanesberg National Park, Northwest Province, South Africa. The subject was reluctant to pose and kept flying off, hence the somewhat awkward shots!
Signature: Brian

Twig Wilter

Dear Brian,
This is a Big Legged Bug in the family Coreidae.  In South Africa they are also known as Twig Wilters.  We have been unable to conclusively identify your species, but we did find a remarkably similar looking specimen posted on the Beetles in the Bush website where it is referred to by the local name Magodo.

Magodo

Letter 13 – Big Legged Plant Bugs

 

Subject: Bug
Location: Houston metro area, TX
December 9, 2012 2:51 pm
We have been finding this on an upstairs front porch in our backyard. There are probably groups of 10-20 of them at any given time. Bugs are approx 1-2 inches in length.
Thanks
Signature: cspiller

Big Legged Plant Bugs

Dear cspillar,
These are Leaf Footed Bugs in the family Coreidae, and they are members of the genus , which are commonly called Big Legged Plant Bugs.  According to BugGuide, there are four species in the genus and all four can be found in Texas.

Letter 14 – Big Legged Bug enters home

 

Subject: What’s this bug
Location: Minneapolis, MN
December 19, 2013 4:11 pm
Found on this bottle of milk Today, 12/19/13
Signature: monicaz30

Big Legged Bug
Big Legged Bug

Dear monicaz30,
This is a Big Legged Bug or Big Footed Bug in the genus
Acanthocephela, and though BugGuide does not note this behavior, we are speculating that like some other members of the family, it may enter homes as the weather begins to cool so it can hibernate.  The Big Legged Bug will not harm you or your home, though they may do some harm in the garden if they are plentiful.

Letter 15 – Big Legged Plant Bug

 

Subject: Bug id
Location: Houston,tx
February 9, 2014 12:00 pm
Please identify
Signature: Mark

Big Legged Bug
Big Legged Plant Bug

Hi Mark,
This is a Big Legged Plant Bug in the genus
Acanthocephala.

Letter 16 – Big Legged Plant Bug Nymph

 

Subject: Beautiful Assassin?
Location: Helotes, Tx – just north of San Antonio
June 5, 2014 12:09 pm
I found and interesting bug wandering around my back patio here in San Antonio this afternoon. Upon first inspection I thought it might be a spider, but it clearly has only 6 legs. It’s back end was black and white, and paddle-shaped. When I got closer for a photo, the paddle would raise up and it was clearly attempting to scare me away. I looked up pictures on Aggie Horticulture, but never found anything like this beauty. Is it a type of assassin bug? I left it alone (after persuading the puppy to do the same), and am hoping to hear back that it is eating bugs in my yard and not boring holes into my home.
Thank you!
Signature: Catherine Schulz

Big Legged Plant Bug
Big Legged Plant Bug

Dear Catherine,
We agree that this is a beautiful bug, and it does resemble an immature Wheel Bug, which is a species of Assassin Bug, but it is actually a Big Legged Plant Bug nymph in the genus
Acanthocephela, as you can see by comparing to this image on BugGuide.  There is no food plant mentioned for the genus on BugGuide, though one species is commonly called a Giant Agave Bug, which would indicate it feeds on agave.

Letter 17 – Big Legged Bug is Acanthocephala declivis: Pumpkin Bug

 

Subject: Giant Agave Bug
Location: Tucker GA
August 9, 2014 1:36 pm
Found this guy hanging out on my screen. He’s a long way from home! I’ve never seen one here in Georgia before!
Signature: Misangela

Big Legged Bug:  Acanthocephala declivis
Pumpkin Bug: Acanthocephala declivis

Dear Misangela,
You have the correct genus but the wrong species.  The Giant Agave Bug is a Southwestern species,
Acanthocephala thomasi.  Your individual is a Big Legged Bug in the same genus that does not have a common name, Acanthocephala declivisIt can be identified, according to BugGuide, by the:  “Humeral angles of pronotum broadly expanded, extending laterally well beyond maximum lateral abdominal margin. Metatibial flange broad until apex, then curving in at right angles to tibial shaft. Anterior pronotal lobe with 2 small shining blunt tubercles along midline.”  Back in 2010, we received a submission of this species and we proposed the common name of Pumpkin Bug in honor of a grandmother who prescribed a shot of whiskey for whatever ails you, much like our own Slavik grandmother.

Letter 18 – Bug of the Month October 2014: Flag Footed Bug from Mexico

 

Subject: Squash Bug family?
Location: Bucerias, MX
September 30, 2014 2:11 pm
I’ve spent several hours online doing my due diligence before asking for help. Help!
Signature: Freda

Flag Footed Bug from Mexico
Flag Footed Bug from Mexico

Dear Freda,
This magnificent insect is a Flag Footed Bug,
Anisocelis flavolineata, and it is in the same family as the Squash Bugs, Coreidae.  Here is an image of a Flag Footed Bug on iNaturalist.  Your image is quite lovely, which is why we have decided to feature it as the Bug of the Month for October, 2014.

Letter 19 – Big Legged Bug from India: Anoplocnemis phasianus

 

Subject: please identify this monster insect
Location: Hetauda, Central Region, Nepal
July 21, 2015 11:00 am
Hi I shot this today evening on my garden. it has two huge muscular rear legs. (my english is so poor i can’t explain it further please see the pic). from Nepal. thank you.
Signature: Suman Acharya

Big Legged Bug
Big Legged Bug

Dear Suman,
Your English is perfectly descriptive.  This is a member of the family Coreidae, and some common English names for members of the family include Big Legged Bug, Leaf Footed Bug, Flag Footed Bug or Twig Wilter.  Many members of the family have greatly exaggerated tibiae on the hind legs which is apparent in several of the common names.  Members of the family have sucking mouthparts that they use to obtain nourishment from plants.  Alas, tried though we did, we were unable to locate a species identification for your magnificent looking Big Legged Bug, and we hope our readership might be able to provide some assistance.  We did locate this similar looking species on the India Biodiversity Portal.

Big Legged Bug
Big Legged Bug

Update:  March 26, 2017
We just received a comment that this is
Anoplocnemis phasianus and this image on Encyclopedia of Life verifies that identification.

 

Letter 20 – Big Legged Plant Bug

 

Subject: Palm sized beetle?
Location: Houston Texas
December 10, 2015 9:32 pm
Found this palm sized bug on my way home. Any clue what it is? I’ve tried looking it up everywhere and it’s not coming up.
Signature: Joan

Big Legged Plant Bug
Big Legged Plant Bug

Dear Joan,
This is not a beetle.  It is a Big Legged Plant Bug in the genus
Acanthocephala.  Based on the BugGuide description “Antennae uniformly colored, dull reddish or orangish,” we conclude your species is the Florida Leaf Footed Bug, Acanthocephala femorata, and because “male hind femur greatly swollen and bearing a large spike; female hind femur slender and bearing several small spikes” we conclude this is a female.

Letter 21 – Big Legged Bug from Venezuela

 

Subject: Big Bug
Location: Caracas, Venezuela
November 26, 2016 5:20 pm
Dear Bugman
It´s the first time in 9 year I saw in my yard a large bug like this (about 2.5 cm long)
Can you help me identify it.
Signature: bicvenaa

Big Legged Bug
Big Legged Bug

Dear bicvenaa,
This is a Big Legged Bug in the genus
Acanthocephala.  We cannot provide you with an exact species, but here is a similar looking individual, also from Venezuela, that is posted to Minden Pictures stock photo agency.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you so much for your response.
According to the picture from Minden Pictures no doubts about genus Acanthocephala.
Regards,

Letter 22 – Big Legged Plant Bug

 

Subject: Identification of bug
Location: North Central Florida
December 17, 2016 3:05 pm
Your expertise is requested in identifying this creature. It was crawling on top of a fence board, it caught my eye and I took its pic. It is cool looking but fierce looking, too!
Thanks, WTB!
Signature: LBrennan

Big Legged Plant Bug
Big Legged Plant Bug

Dear LBrennan,
This is a Coreid Bug in the genus
Acanthocephala, and members of that genus are sometimes called Big Legged Plant Bugs.  We know of no incidents of a person being bitten by a Big Legged Plant Bug.

Thank you, Daniel!  I applaud your quick response AND your expertise!
LBrennan

Letter 23 – Big Legged Plant Bug

 

Subject: Large beautiful insect
Location: Smyrna (North Georgia)
January 5, 2017 4:33 pm
Hello Bugman,
This is a terrific site and already my husband and I have learned some very interesting things! The picture I am sending you is of a very large bug (3″ in length) that flew onto the side mirror of my neighbor’s car. It was a medium gray color with brown undertones and some reddish markings (eyes, on back. Etc) it was slow flying and seemed cumbersome. The picture was taken this past November here in Smyrna (North Georgia). I observed thd bug for several minutes, fascinated and took video footage that is about 30 seconds. I have done a bit of research amd guessed it was some species of Leaf Footed Bug, but would love to hear what an expert has to say. Thank you very much!
Signature: J. langham

Big Legged Plant Bug

Dear J. Iangham,
You are correct that this is a Leaf Footed Bug in the family Coreidae, and more specifically it is a Big Legged Plant Bug in the genus
Acanthocephala, probably Acanthocephala terminalis which is described on BugGuide as:  “Apical segment of antenna orange or yellowish, contrasting sharply with the dark segments 1-3; metatibial flange wavy-margined, narrowing distally and extending only two-thirds the length of the tibia; pronotum covered with golden hairs and with small but distinct tubercles; abdomen sinuate in outline, the sides of the abdomen bulging outward beyond the wings when viewed from above. “

Thank you very much Bugman! It’s great to know the identity of our visitor and my husband and I appreciate your time!
Regards,
Jeni

 

Letter 24 – Big Legged Bug getting minerals from Skink feces

 

Subject: Wheel bugs enjoying skink poo
Location: Southern, Maryland
August 2, 2017 7:25 pm
Hi, I thought I’d share this. If you’re eating your lunch, you may want to skip this one… It’s not so much a WTB (I know what they are) as it is a What’s That Bug Doing?! (WTBD). There’s a healthy population of Five Lined Skinks living in and around my front steps. They like to sit out on the stones and sunbathe and munch on insects that crawl by. They also tend to drop little skink poops where they sunbathe. For the last 2 days, I’ve noticed 2 wheel bugs who’ve become enamored with the skink poop and have decided that it would make a tasty snack. They crawl all over it and use their proboscises to poke the poop. They must be getting some nutritional value out of it because they’ve been doing it for 2 days in a row. I can’t imagine they’re doing it for the taste! 🙂 If the skinks see them, they may end up being lunch themselves and then the old adage: you are what you eat may be proven true.
Signature: JS

Big Legged Bugs, adult on left, nymph on right, take minerals from Skink feces

7:29 pm
yep, I sent that.  I’ve enjoyed your site over the years and wanted to
share these pics of the wheel bugs dining on skink poo. I’m pretty
sure the smaller one is a juvenile.
Thanks,
Joe

Big Legged Bugs take minerals and fluids from Skink feces

8:03 pm
Upon close examination, it may not be a wheel bug.  It looks kinda
like one without the “wheel” so maybe its a WTB after all!  Maybe the
“wheel” comes after a later molt?

Hi Joe,
Thank you for the nice submission that we are quite certain will entertain our readership.  Your final addition is correct.  These are Big Legged Bugs in the genus
Acanthocephala, and judging by the orange terminal segments on the antennae and your location, we are quite certain it is Acanthocephala terminalis.  You may verify this on BugGuide.  You are also correct that a Wheel Bug does not acquire its cog-like crest until after its final molt, so immature Wheel Bugs have no crests.  Some male butterflies puddle on urine or manure or even putrefying flesh to acquire minerals and fluids, and we suspect the same is true of these Big Legged Bugs.

Letter 25 – Big Legged Bug mistaken for Blood-Sucking Conenose in Texas

 

Subject:  What bug is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Central Texas
Date: 11/16/2017
Time: 12:15 AM EDT
My friend claims this is the type of bug that can transmit  Chagas disease.  I don’t agree. Who is right?
How you want your letter signed:  I’m right, right?

Big Legged Bug

You are correct.  Blood Sucking Conenose Bugs or Kissing Bugs are Assassin Bugs in the genus Triatoma,  and they are known to spread Chagas Disease.  Though many other Assassin Bugs are known to bite, most species are considered harmless to humans.  Your friends don’t even have the family correct, and one must generalize the identification all the way to the insect suborder Heteroptera to even consider them correct.  This is a Big Legged Bug in the genus Acanthocephala, a member of the family Coreidae in the suborder Heteroptera, a very very distant relative of the disease carrying Kissing Bugs.

Letter 26 – Big Legged Bugs

 

Subject:  What’s these bugs?
Geographic location of the bug:  Fort Bragg, NC
Date: 12/05/2017
Time: 01:55 PM EDT
These 2 bugs look like giant stink bugs but I know they’re not because when I killed them I smelled them and they like apples. I know that sounds crazy, I was even amazed by it but that’s what they smelled like to me!  I saw one of these last week but I was unable to get any good pictures of it. Today I got great shots of both of them and  I still have their bodies. Please help me identify what type of bugs they are because it’s driving me nuts. Thank you, I will await your response!  Have a nice day Gail Barnes!!
How you want your letter signed:  However you would like to.

Big Legged Bugs

Dear Gail,
These are Big Legged Bugs in the genus
Acanthocephala, and we are intrigued by your observation that they smell like apples.

Letter 27 – Big Legged Bug from Costa Rica

 

Subject:  What is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Brasilito, Guanacaste Costa Rica
Date: 04/29/2018
Time: 12:02 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hola! I see some weird bugs here daily. But this was a first. He was on the drivers side window of my car and about 1 – 1 1/2” long. My friend said it was a stink bug, but I can’t find an image online that matches it.
How you want your letter signed:  Sandra

Big Legged Bug

Dear Sandra,
This looks to us like a Big Legged Bug in the genus
Acanthocephala.  They are in the same order as Stink Bugs, but in a different family.

Letter 28 – Big Legged Plant Bug rescued from Pool

 

Subject:  Good guy or bad guy?
Geographic location of the bug:  Southwest Louisiana, USA
Date: 07/20/2018
Time: 12:12 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  We found this poor thing in our salt water pool. It’s wings are drying out and it’s looking like it will survive the trauma of an overnight swim. We’re a little concerned that it may go on to gorge itself on our vegetables and citrus trees but we have plenty to spare with the big guy.
How you want your letter signed:  Lu

Big Legged Plant Bug

Dear Lu,
This is a Big Legged Plant Bug in the genus
Acanthocephala, and we don’t mean to throw a damper on your Bug Humanitarian efforts, but alas, it is a plant feeder.  Like other True Bugs, it has a mouth designed to pierce and suck fluids, but they are not a significant problem in cultivated gardens.

Letter 29 – Big Legged Bug from Colombia appears to be Curtius marginalis

 

Subject:  What bug is this?
Geographic location of the bug:  Tolima, colombia
Date: 12/03/2018
Time: 12:38 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Is this big connected to chagras parasite? Is this a triatomine bug?
How you want your letter signed:  Violet

Big Legged Bug

Dear Violet,
This is a Big Legged Bug in the family Coreidae, and along with Assassin Bugs in the family Reduviidae that includes the subfamily Triatominae, they are classified together in the suborder Heteroptera, which explains their physical similarities, but Big Legged Bugs are not a threat to humans and they do not carry the Chagas parasite.  Your individual is magnificent and very distinctive looking, but despite our efforts, we have only located this image on FlickR and this image on FlickR, but alas, neither includes a species identification.  Perhaps one of our readers, like Cesar Crash who runs Insetologia, might write in with a species identification.

Letter 30 – Big Legged Plant Bug

 

Subject:  Not sure what this bug is…
Geographic location of the bug:  Kennesaw, GA
Date: 12/26/2018
Your letter to the bugman:  Not super urgent, but was working on a roof and this guy came crawling around the corner. He’s missing a leg. The lighter is for scale. Its a standard size Bic.
How you want your letter signed:  Solar electrician

Big Legged Plant Bug

Dear Solar electrician,
This is a Big Legged Plant Bug in the genus
Acanthocephala.

Letter 31 – Big Legged Bug from Honduras

 

Subject:  Kissing Bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Honduras
Date: 06/13/2019
Time: 12:07 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I have tried to identify this insect, most of the evidence suggests its some kind of Triatoma, but its hind legs are very thick.
How you want your letter signed:  Mr tropics

Big Legged Bug

Dear Mr tropics,
This is a Big Legged Bug in the family Coreidae, probably in the genus Acanthocephala, not a Kissing Bug.  The Big Legged Bug poses no threat to humans.

Letter 32 – Big Legged Bug from Nepal

 

Subject:  can you tell me what this one is?
Geographic location of the bug:  Nepal
Date: 08/23/2019
Time: 04:04 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I can’t find this beetle by searching & wondered if you could help me identify it. I was originally wondering if it could fly.
This image was taken in the mountains in Nepal
How you want your letter signed:  Nicola

Big Legged Bug

Dear Nicola,
The best we are going to be able to do at this time if to provide you with a family.  This is a Big Legged Bug in the family Coreidae.   It looks like the individual in this image on India Biodiversity Portal, but it is only identified to the family level.  It can fly.

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.

    View all posts
  • 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.

    View all posts

26 thoughts on “What Do Leaf Footed Bugs Eat: A Friendly Guide to Their Diet”

    • Because of the Golden Buprestid submission, we know that you are from the Pacific Northwest, so you most like encounter the Western Conifer Seed Bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis, a species native to the Pacific Northwest that has greatly expanded its range, likely because of human travel, since the 1960s.

      Reply
  1. Just found your grand website…I am always trying to ID insects and other critters in the wild of central Texas with my granddaughter Georgia…thanks! PS can you give newbies like me a primer on using your site?

    Reply
    • We had already searched Nepal with no matching images, so we tried a bordering country. Insects do not respect international borders.

      Reply
  2. Insecticides are rarely needed for leaffooted bug control because small blemishes on most fruit are tolerable in gardening situations and because landscape plants are rarely damaged. What is IPM?

    Reply
  3. L-o-v-e this big bug! It’s everywhere in my yard – perhaps because i have a big tree plus lots of other smaller things for it to eat. It’s so slow. I’m glad it doesn’t like to eat me.

    Reply
  4. I have encounter one today in Hickory, NC. I was under a tree and it fell from the tree onto my head and I went to pee in a cousin’s house. So as I finished peeing, this bug was on my neck. I felt a sting in the back of my neck and I used my right hand to swing it off my neck and it was that long legged plant bug. It felt like a bee sting but a minute later the sting feeling was gone. It’s been 3 hrs and I still feel find so I don’t know if I’m allergic to it or not. But it does sting people.

    Reply
    • I thought the same thing Cesar, but couldn’t find any references to Big Legged Bugs smelling like apples, but BugGuide actually mentions the apple smell for Whirligig Beetles.

      Reply
  5. There was one that got into my house and one of my cats tried to get it. While I did not see what happened my Himalayan gal must have thought “lunch” and came away running, left eye closed and mount drooling. I was concerned but could not find anything negative. She seems fine now, so I wonder if he had kicked her in her eye. Just a thought.

    Reply
  6. I do tree work in Florida I get been sprayed in the face every once in a while buy them it’s almost like a super light pepper spray

    Reply

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