Red Insects – On Plants in Spring (wheel bug vs leaf-footed bug)

leaf footed bug

Each spring I get pictures of clusters of small red insects on plants or surfaces near a garden.

The two most likely suspects are wheel bug nymphs and leaf-footed bug nymphs.

But wheel bugs are beneficial insects and leaf-footed bugs feed on tomatoes, squash and okra, right?

How to tell them apart?

In general, leaf-footed bug nymph bodies are all red while wheel bug nymphs have a red abdomen and a black head and thorax.

Leaf-footed bugs should be eliminated before they become adults. Insecticidal soap will do the job just fine.

See below:

leaf-footed bug nymph


leaf-footed bug nymphs


leaf-footed bug adult


leaf-footed bug adult


wheel bug nymph, courtesy of Ward Upham, Kansas State University


wheel bug adult



Ward Upham
Kansas State University
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