Leaffooted Bugs

Does anyone have experience dealing with leaffooted bugs? A secret family trick to dealing with them? Or maybe can just commiserate??? These things are nasty! An inch or so in length, fly aggressively at you when they see you coming, are hard to crunch, and smell horrible after you manage to slay them! They are new to my area in the last three years, and last year were a major problem for my tomatoes, potatoes, stone fruit, and pomegranates!


Common here but not aggressive. The smell is bad and they do damage just like regular stink bugs. I don’t have any secret control methods.

Check out the nozzle-snout on them, they can do a fair amount of damage in short order. They try to make a mad play for my ripening pomegranates every year. Screen pouches completely block them. I mainly just finger smash them while wearing garden gloves. Never noticed any smell. If they are out of reach, a shot from a spray bottle filled with soapy water does the trick.

Leaf footed bugs and squash bugs are the only insects we have regular issues with here. I dont have a solution other than heavy pesticides for most stuff but on pomegranates we use surround sprayable clay during the season and it does make a huge impact on leaf footed bug damage.

I am fascinated by the part where you said they are new to your area the last few years. Here in my area, we almost never saw these things until just 2 years ago, and since then they have been EVERYWHERE. I’ve never seen a plant, animal, or bug so quickly go from obscurity to infestation levels! Everyone here is talking about them, yet there is little in the news/agricultural literature about why they have arrived in such large numbers all at once. Ours are a tiny bit different that the one in your photo…only in that ours don’t have the flared leaf-shaped thing on back legs. Otherwise, identical.
Sorry…can’t offer any insight in dealing with them but I’ll watch this thread with interest.

I second the Surround, assuming these guys are like stinkbugs (these particular guys I have not seen in the east). Surround slows the stinkbugs down enough that the damage is minimal. Its work to keep the coverage however so I only use it if things are getting bad.

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I haven’t seen them either Scott, but just looking at a dispersion map they are certainly here in Maryland. It even listed state by state counts per given month. There was almost nowhere in the USA or Canada where they were not found. Maine had slightly higher counts than Maryland.

We have them here in NY, but I’ve only seen them in the house. Along with Lady Bugs, they like to overwinter in the house. I’ve had a few freaky close encounters with them, as they like to sneak up on people for some reason. Once I thought I had wasp crawling across the back of my neck. Strangely, I’ve never seen them on plants or anywhere outside. I see stink bugs in garden all the time.

Because these suckers (literally) can be seen dining on mulberries now, other fruit later on, etc. leading up to their assault on pomegranates, they have no reason to either die or fly elsewhere. Citrus may be one of the only fruit growing here that they don’t suck on and spread thriving fungi that are lining their syringes. Talk about using dirty needles. Every black spot on every infected pom likely started as a L. F.H. meal. When a fresh batch of newborns emerge, they are very orange and cluster together, which is a great time to spray them all with your favorite soapy mix to kill them all in a minute. Because Assassin bugs also are orange and somewhat similarly shaped, only spray the clusters. Same-sized Assassin bugs are already scattered about on different twigs waiting for a meal to come by rather than hang out in a cluster on top of a fruit like the baby L.F.H.'s. It sure does take more than a single squirt of soapy mix to bring down the mature, large, gray adults though. After they get sprayed once they start flying away quickly and may avoid getting saturated thoroughly so as to bring them down. This year will be my first trying a few kinds of bagging ideas on valued poms.

It is closely related stinkbugs that smell. And they are very difficult to deal with at all stages (nymph form of insect). Closely related are the squash bugs too.

They can be fast and very aware of your presence as well.

WP Surround can work. Insecticidal soaps work. Hand vacuum cleaner. And as was said, grab and smash for the non-squeamish. Otherwise they are pretty tough bastards.

Sorry, I thought I had notes beyond links:

Leaf-Footed Bug - (Acanthocephala spp.)











I just looked through my old photos, and the first time I saw them in my area was actually September 2013. I emailed a farmer about three hours south of me, whom grows pomes, citrus, etc. extensively; he first saw them in 2013 as well. Based on what I’ve read, I’m guessing the consecutive mild winters are causing the population to explode.

Does saturating the adults with soapy water actually kill them??? I’m intrigued. This could be a helpful tool.

While spraying soapy water on aphids today one of those stinkbug looking insects was nearby and I gave him a little shot of soap. I don’t know if it later killed it but it quickly took off. Bill

Yes, it does if you give them a good soaking. If it doesn’t kill them outright it usually stuns them so you can finger smash or stomp 'em. I should add that they are pretty slow moving here in general.

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How strong should the soapy spray be to kill a cluster of baby L.F.H. perched on a fruit? Weak mixes will do as they try to walk away slowly and get resprayed until getting soaked and croaked. Windex works on the babies. On the other hand, the gray old bugs will just fly away when the first spray arrives, so use a stronger dose with bigger drops sprayed rapidly to get more fluid on them before they can helicopter away. One idea is to mix some liquid dish soap with a quart of water and spray some fire ants to see how long it takes to kill them. If the soap amount you mixed in can stop them in a minute or less, that should work for the big gray L.F.H.'s also, but not as quickly even after getting saturated. You can use a second spray bottle with water to rinse off the soap from the vegetation afterwards. When I spot them on leaves or twigs when walking about the orchard, I usually quickly grab the antennae or one of the back legs and in a snap toss them down to the ground where they get stomped. If I am quick enough with the snatch-and-toss, I don’t get gassed with their stenchy spray. One lesson learned was that repeated spraying of bugs perched on poms over multiple days w/o rinsing the soapy mix off the fruit will result in ruined fruit from hot Summer’s effect on the soap build-up.