Most recently reviewed by: Charles Allen (2018)
Common Name(s): Leaf-Footed Bug
Pest LocationRow Crop, Vegetable and Fruit
Leaffooted bug is a common name given to insects in the family Coreidae. These insects can be identified by the expanded dilation of the tibia or lower portion of the leg. The dilations can be pronounced, Figure 1, or slight, Figure 2, depending on species. The majority of the species are dark colored and medium to large (5/8 to 1 + inch in length) in size with most being plant feeders, however, a few may be predaceous. As a group, leaffooted bugs have a wide host range that includes numerous fruits, vegetables, citrus, row crops, ornamentals and weeds. The adults are strong fliers and can move considerable distances to search for host plants.
Habitat & Hosts
Leaffooted bugs feed a wide range of host plants including: pecan, fruit, citrus, millet, vegetables and numerous weeds, Figures 6, 7, 8, 9.
Leaffooted bugs have three life stages – egg, nymph and adult. Adults over winter, emerge during the spring where females lay eggs on host plants. Eggs are laid in chains, Figure 5 and there are 5 nymphal or instar stages. Early instars are reddish with black legs, Figure 4 and can be easily confused with the beneficial wheel bug nymphs, Figure 10, which have a red abdomen but a black thorax and head. The adult wheel bug, Figure 11 is often confused with adult leaffooted bugs. The wheel bug is a predacious insect and is considered beneficial.
Leaffoted bugs damage plants as both adult and the nymphal stages. All stages have piercing-sucking mouthparts that they use this to feed on plant juices from leaves, shoots, stems and fruit.
ManagementIf you live in the State of Texas, contact your local county agent or entomologist for management information. If you live outside of Texas, contact your local extension for management options.
There are various management options, either alone or in combination that can be undertaken, depending on host plants and the area that needs to be protected. Various management options can include:
Cultural: Removing or managing early season weed host such as thistle and Gaura can help reduce populations in the immediate area, Figure 12
Physical: Depending on the crop, row covers, which physically exclude the insect can be effective, Figure 13.
Organic: There are several organic certified insecticides that can be used, however, residual control from these products will be limited and reapplications will have to be made.
Natural enemies: Various predators and parasites attack leaffooted bugs. Predators can include assassin bugs, spiders and predatory stinkbugs. A common parasite of leaffooted bug and stink bug adults and late instar nymphs is the feather legged fly Trichopoda pennipes, Figure 14.
Insecticides: The most effective insecticides are the pyrethroid based products. Some examples of pyrethroid active ingredients include: bifenthrin, lambda-cyhaolthrin, permethrin, cypermethrin and cyfluthin. Insecticides, including organic products work best against the nymphal stages so frequent scouting of host plants is recommended to detect early stages of an infestation. When using an insecticide read and follow label directions for safety precautions, rates and preharvest intervals.