Family Coreidae (Leaf-footed bugs)
Who- These insects are typically brown or gray in color and vary in size from 5-45 mm. They get their common name from the leaf-like extension found on the hind legs of many species.
What- Like other pest Hemipterans, these insects feed on plant saps with their piercing-sucking mouthparts and are known to carry a fungal yeast. Most damage is caused when they feed on the tomato fruits causing discoloration, scarring, and for smaller fruits to abort.
When- They can be active year round depending on your location, but are typically most active during warmer months.
Where- Coreidae are found worldwide in temperate habitats but are most abundant in tropical and subtropical locations.
Why- Leaf-footed bugs feed on many fruits and nuts but also thistles and other weeds. Having an abundance of these plants near your garden can attract them.
How- Generally these insects are not a large concern for tomato growers. Their populations are usually low in numbers but outbreaks can occur. If this happens, sanitation (removal of overwintering sites such as nearby woodpiles) and weeding should be the first course of action. Physical removal of any seen insects is fairly simple and quick as they are usually large and easy to spot. Since most damage is cosmetic, pesticides are not recommended to combat this group of insects.
Lauren’s notes- Leaf-footed bugs are also known as twig-wilters or tip-wilters in parts of Australia and Africa. Many species feed in young twigs by injecting juices that macerate the tissues of new growth causing them to wilt quickly.