Leaf-Footed Bugs – On Tomatoes
Q: These insects are attacking my tomatoes. Please tell me what they are and how I can get rid of them.
A: You’re seeing leaf-footed bugs, Leptoglossus pyllopus. These insects are close kin to stinkbugs and have the same piercing-sucking mouthparts. They insert their straw-like proboscis into a ripe tomato and suck out some of the juice. The damage gives a tomato a yellowish spot on the skin. They can also spread disease from place to place.
Populations vary from year to year. 2009 was a banner year for leaf-footed bugs and their little red nymphs on tomatoes.
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.
Watch for the distinctive red nymphs in June next year and control them with insecticidal soap (click for sources).