Leaf-Footed Bugs

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Leaf-footed bugs (family Coreidae) are rife with discrepancies.  They are collectively so-named because of the leaf-like expansions of their hind tibia, not their "feet" which are called tarsi (tarsus singular) and are the leg segments they actually walk on.  Squash vine bugs (Anasa tristis) belong to the leaf-footed bug family, but these footloose bugs lack the leaf-like feature.  In fact, there are many other leafless leaf-footed bugs.  The family name Coreidae is derived from the Ancient Greek word for bedbug; however, bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) belong to a different family, Cimicidae.


Leaf-Footed Bug


Leaf-Footed Bug


However, we can say with certainty that leaf-footed bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts which they use to inject enzymes that dissolve plant tissue, then they suck up the slurry.  Some, such as the western conifer seed bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis) are relatively innocuous since they focus their feeding attention on pine cones and occasionally the seed within.  Of course, this bug is notorious for coming into homes in the fall to spend the winter.  Others can produce serious damage to vegetables and ripening fruit.  Acanthocephala terminalis is a common species found in woodland margins, often on hickory, goldenrod, and Joe-Pye weed.  L. fulvicornis is specialist on magnolias.


Leaf-Footed Bug Eggs


Leaf-Footed Bug Nymphs


Although leaf-footed bugs are not closely related to stink bugs (Family Pentatomidae), many species share a similar chemical defense strategy with their odiferous distant cousins.  Leaf-footed bugs sequester defense secretions in thoracic glands; most of the chemicals are straight-chain aldehydes and ketones.  If threatened, they can emit a strong, unpleasant odor.  Leaf-footed bugs are often mistaken for assassin bugs (family Reduviidae).  Both types of bugs may appear similar in body size and shape.  However, as their common name implies, assassin bugs kill and feed on other insects.