There are 120 species of leaf-footed bugs found within the U.S. and Canada. Most range in size from about one-half inch to one inch in length. A few species are much larger. Most are brown to dark brown or even black in color and some have pale or white stripes across the middle of their back. Many species have the lower part of their hind legs expanded and leaf-like in appearance, thus the name, leaf-footed bugs. Even though found throughout the U.S. they are much more common in the southern portion of the country.
Leaf-bugs are rather long bodied and have relatively long legs and antennae. Their head is narrow and small in relation to their body size. They have well developed scent glands on each side of their body. When handled they can produce a very pungent smell, similar to that of a stink bug.
Leaf-footed bugs lay their eggs on their host plant. In some species, the eggs are cylindrical and flat on the ends, like small kegs. They may be placed end to end, next to each other in a long line.
The immature bugs, or nymphs, are much like the adults in form but do not have wings and are often brightly colored with red, yellow, white and black markings. They prefer to feed in groups and often 10 to 15 may be found feeding at a site.
In the southern part of their range, leaf-bugs may have two or three generations in a year. They are most active in late summer and fall. They over-winter in trash, plant debris and other protected areas. Leaf-footed bugs feed on a wide variety of host plants. They will feed on weeds, shrubs and the tender tissue at the growing tips of tree branches. They have been found feeding on many vegetables including tomatoes, corn, okra, pepper, potatoes, and various kinds of beans and peas.
Look for leaf-footed bugs along roadsides and stream sides, in parks and meadows, and in your flower and vegetable garden.