Facts, Identification & Control
What do they look like?
There are a large number of insects in this group. Leaf footed bugs (sometimes called squash bugs) get their common name from the leaf-like looking structure located on the insect’s hind legs.
- Length: Some species can be as large as 2.5 cm long.
- Color: They are usually dark brown to black. Some have pale markings.
How Did I Get Leaffooted Bugs?
Normally leaffooted bugs usually do not invade in large numbers. Yards with large amounts of ornamental plants, trees, shrubs, or gardens may have leaf footed bugs. Also, habitats such as thick weeds and uncut grass provide excellent living conditions for these insects.
Leaffooted bug adults often overwinter in cracks and gaps of home siding as well as in woodpiles or outbuildings. After overwintering, the adults seek out host plants to feed on and begin the process of reproduction.
How Serious Are Leaf-footed Bugs?
Leaf-footed bugs can cause grief for people with backyard gardens. The pests wreak havoc on fruit, vegetables, and ornamentals. Tomatoes and pomegranates are among their favorite things to eat.
Sometimes the bugs transmit diseases to the plants. Thankfully, the pests do not bite or spread diseases to humans. However, they do have a terrible scent, especially when crushed.
In addition, leaf-footed bugs often gather on warm windowsills or home siding in the fall, becoming eyesores. An occasional adult might try to find a place to spend the winter. Many times they find openings in homes and get inside.
When spring comes, the adults become active again. They try to move outside to feed and mate. The insects do not cause any damage indoors, and they do not deposit eggs in the home.
How Do I Get Rid of Leaffooted Bugs?
What Orkin Does
An insecticide application outside on the foundation and around doors and windows can help prevent these bugs from coming into the home. Because of moisture and temperature, the barrier should be reapplied periodically.
What You Can Do
Many homeowners use a vacuum to remove them from the living space.
Preventing leaf-footed bugs from invading the home starts with an inspection.
- Check the exterior of the home to find any openings that the bugs could use to get inside.
- Make sure exterior doors close tightly.
- Replace weather stripping that is missing or damaged.
- Check the screens on windows, attic vents, and crawlspace vents.
Leaffooted Bugs vs. Kissing Bugs
Confusion about non-biting leaf-footed bugs and biting kissing bugs exists among many homeowners who often mistakenly confuse leaf-footed bugs for the medically important kissing bugs. To avoid confusion, simply remember that kissing bugs DO NOT have the leaf shaped structure on their hind legs.
The adults lay eggs on leaves. The immature insects and the adults suck the juice from the leaves. In warm areas of the country, there are two or three generations of these bugs per year.