Sacramento Digs Gardening logo
Sacramento Digs Gardening Article
Your resource for Sacramento-area gardening news, tips and events

Articles Recipe Index Keyword Index Calendar Twitter Facebook Instagram About Us Contact Us

Got tomatoes? Look out for these invaders

These leaf-footed bugs are hanging out in tomatillos, but they like all kinds of ripening summer produce. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)
Leaf-footed bugs love ripening fruit

Have you seen this bug? It can literally suck the joy out of summer, especially if you grow tomatoes.

Looking like some strange prehistoric creature, the leaf-footed bug is a real stinker. It stabs its long mouthparts into nice juicy tomatoes and other favorite targets, then sucks out the moisture.

Usually found in clusters, the young nymphs seem to appear out of nowhere, climbing over ripening fruit to look for just the right spot to dine. They quickly get big and scary-looking; adults measure over an inch tall.

Three different species are native to California. They’re related to stinkbugs and attack a lot more than tomatoes. They’re also fond of pomegranates, almonds and watermelons. Damage often is only cosmetic.

Leaf-footed bugs tend to hang out and breed in weedy areas (they love thistles) before moving into the tomato patch. (That’s another reason to keep weeds down.)

Catch these bad bugs while they’re young. The nymphs move slowly and can’t fly.

Knock them off into a bucket of water; add a teaspoon of liquid detergent to the water to assure a quick demise. No pesticides are necessary. But wear gloves; if touched, these bugs will make your hands stink.

Leaf-footed bugs can have multiple generations each summer, so more nymphs may pop up at any time after May. Keep that bucket handy.

For more on these pests, check out these recommendations from the UC Cooperative Extension Pest Notes:


0 comments have been posted.

Newsletter Subscription

Sacramento Digs Gardening to your inbox.

Local News

Ad for California Local

Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

Contact Us

Send us a gardening question, a post suggestion or information about an upcoming event.