Q: I have been finding these large brown bugs with a white stripe across their back on my shrubs. Can you tell me what they are?
A: Leaf-footed bug, Leptoglossus [= Theognis] phyllopus is a widespread and conspicuous minor pest of many kinds of crops, including fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and ornamentals. It has been reported as a major pest in citrus groves when feeding on ripening fruit causes premature color break and fruit drop. Serious infestations do not occur commonly, but a large proportion of the crop may be lost when they do. I have seen as many as 10 on my blueberry shrubs this summer although fruit drop was not substantial.
This insect is easy to identify from other leaf-footed bugs because of a continuous white crossbar across its back. The adult is chocolate brown in color. Most of the problem on citrus involves early and mid-season oranges, tangerines, and satsumas, with injury usually occurring between September 1 and late November. Pecan is one of the other crops attacked leaving a black pit and kernel spot of pecan. Some of the ornamentals attacked include hibiscus, crape myrtle, ligustrum, ixora, gladiolus, Gerbera daisy, and rose. Wild hosts include thistle, goldenrod, and elderberry.
Adults have been seen during all months of the year in the Deep South, but populations peak during the warmer months. Often removal of wild host plants is the best way to control this insect although I have taken great pleasure in the squish and stomp method.