Blueberry – Leaf-footed Bug
Q: My sister has three different types of blueberry bushes that produce delicious berries. But I have noticed lots of these flying guys have also been enjoying them! Can you tell us what they are and what we can do to control them?
A: They are leaf-footed bugs.
They cause damage by feeding on leaves and fruit.They pierce the blueberries with their hollow proboscis and suck the juice. The saliva contains a toxic compound which may cause wilting and death of leaves and deformation of fruit. The insects can feed on larger green and ripe fruits. Puncturing of the fruit also allows fungi and bacteria to enter and causes rotting.
You may see the bright red, ant-like nymphs of the leaf-footed bug on your plants.
The adults are tough to control organically. If you wear gloves, they are easy to catch and squish. Spinosad (click for sources) and/or a rotenone-pyrethrin combination are used as organic insecticides. You’ll have to spray regularly to get control.
Some gardeners report success with using a hand-held vacuum to suck up the insects.
Carbaryl (click for sources) also gives good control but read the label to know how long you have to wait before harvest.