Friday, May 2, 2008

Leaf-footed bugs

I thought that I'd try to head this one off at the pass. I know everyone has their tomatoes planted and I'll probably by getting calls on these guys pretty soon.

Leaf-footed bugs are brownish-grey and often have expanded regions on the hind leg that look similiar to leaves (hence the name). Some have a whitish stripe running across the back of the body. Nymphs look similar to adults, but are smaller and wingless. Sometimes nymph color can be a reddish-orange causing them to be mistaken with assassin bugs. If you want to be nerdy, like me, and happen to have a microscope or good handlens nearby, assassin bugs have a 3 segmented beak while leaf-footed bugs have a four segmented beak ("beak" refers to the mouthparts). Leaf-footed bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts that they insert into plants and suck the juices out. They often will feed on tomatoes (usually what I get the most calls about- people are very attached to their tomatoes!), eggplant, beans, peaches, strawberies, watermelon plus others. Damage on will vary depending on the part of the plant that has been fed upon, but feeding can cause yellowing or deformity of the plant.

So, what are your options to get rid of these guys? Handpicking works well if you have time and patience. Make sure to wear leather gloves as they can bite and release a smell that can be slightly unpleasant. Vacuuming the bugs off the plants is another option- try a shop vac or smaller handheld unit if your afraid of sucking the whole plant up. You can also try contact kill insecticides such as d-limonene, pyrethrum or pyrethroids. Don't bother with insecticidal soap to kill adults since they'll scoff at you and fly away...these bugs have fairly hard exoskeletons. As with all pesticides, make sure to read the label to ensure you can treat the bug and plants that you want to treat.

On a sidenote....update on BB (Baby Brown)

We had a checkup yesterday and got to hear the heartbeat. It sounded very similiar to panting our lab does after playing outside in the summer. Kind of weird, but reassuring that things are progressing. I'm beginning to show a bit, so if you see me, no, I'm not just getting fat...there's a baby in there! The baby is about 4 inches long this week and is learning to breathe and building bones and muscle. Alan is being somewhat strict making sure I get enough calcium and eating enough fruits & veggies. He's cute, but can be annoying at times! ;)

Enjoy your weekend!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Cool news on the baby. I always laughed at the heartbeat, sort of like little distant tribal drum beats.

Good info on the leaf footed bugs. I'll be watching in the veggie garden, although I'm sure to get squeamish if I see them and call my husband over to take care of them.