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13 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Leaf-Footed Bugs (Leptoglossus)

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13 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Leaf-Footed Bugs (Leptoglossus)

When destructive insects such as the leaf-footed bug get into your garden and decimate your plants, it is frustrating and may even set your harvest back.

Leaf footed bugs are not dangerous as they do not harm humans. However, when there is an infestation or the population gets out of control, they can cause damage to your garden.

When pests are destroying your crops, you have to figure out the best and safest options on how to control or get rid of them to take better care of your plants.

Do not despair; there are different ways to expel these harmful insects from your garden or house without using harsh chemicals. Sometimes multiple solutions can be most beneficial.

Leaf-Footed Bug Identification

Belonging to the genus Leptoglossus, these critters, otherwise called pomegranate bugs, categorically fall into the Coreidae true bug family of the Hemiptera order [1].

Leaf footed plant bugs are noticeable because their rear legs look like tiny leaves. In fact, they might remind you of stink bugs with their sleek, teardrop-shaped bodies.

They tend to be a little over half to one inch in length. Additionally, adults can range in color from gray to tan to brown to black, and even the young nymphs can be brighter colors like orange, yellow, and red.

The insect’s head is smaller than its body and two antennas stick out that help it function. They use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to suck the juice out of plant leaves, fruits, and shoots.

The Western leaf cutter bug can be found mainly in Mexico, Central America, and parts of South America.

Life Cycle

To be sure you get all the bugs, you should first understand its life cycle.

Similar to most bugs, these insects begin as eggs, turn into nymphs, and then finally become adults where the life cycle begins again.

You can find any of these stages of life on leaves in gardens. When females are ready to lay, they will pick the perfect leaf in your plant to do so.

The leaf footed bug eggs hatch and turn into Leaf-footed bug nymphs. You can find nymphs in groups, and they will go through different stages before they become adults.

Some females can lay over 200 eggs in the springtime!

How to Get Rid of Leaf Footed Bugs Naturally

If you’ve been looking for ways to repel these bad bugs, below are 13 natural and organic ways to eliminate them from your garden.

1. Use Row Covers

Row covers have many uses in the garden, one of them being to control all kinds of pests. However, it is best to use them from the beginning of your planting season before they arrive.

Once the bugs are already present, this may not be the best option as they are already in your garden. Also, the material used should be light in weight with the ability to let water pass through.

A downside may be that it prevents beneficial bugs from coming into your garden.

2. Diatomaceous Earth 

Diatomaceous Earth is a great organic leaf footed bug control remedy.

It is a natural crumbled rock made from fossilized diatoms and can be added to your garden or around the house to make sure dangerous bugs stay away.

You can sprinkle DE on or around your plants, and the good news is, you don’t need to use it a lot. Just a little bit will help eradicate unwanted pests.

You do, however, need to reapply after any rain. Not only will it rid you of these critters, but it is organic and natural as well, unlike Sevin dust.

3. Neem Oil

Mostly works on leaf footed nymphs, this product will keep away leaf-footed bugs.

Make a leaf footed bug spray by mixing two tablespoons of neem oil in a gallon of water. Spray it onto both sides of the leaves.

However, do not spray beneficial bugs or use neem oil in really hot temperatures as it can cause suffocation to plants and exterminate any insect on contact.

4. Physically Remove Bugs

If you spend a lot of time out in your garden, removing the bugs physically is a good solution. Therefore, take the time to look through the plants and at the backs of leaves.

When you see a bug, pick it off and squeeze it between your gloved fingers. If that doesn’t sound pleasant to you, you can also drop the bug in soapy water to kill it by way of suffocation.

Try to begin this practice early on to have the best effect. While removing them physically can be a good idea, you may want to also try other natural ways, especially if you are busy and not able to be out in your garden as often.

5. Clear Woodpiles and Winter Shelters

It is typical to leave remnants of wood and debris around your yard and winter shelters. However, this is something that can invite these creatures to your gardens.

They will look for warm places to go during the winter, and their survival means more eggs in the spring.

More eggs mean more detriment to your garden. It is also a good idea to patch up any holes in warm places where they might want to hide.

6. Get Rid of Weeds

Weeds can attract these bugs as well. They will likely stick around to eat the leaves of your weeds, lay their eggs and multiply, which will cause them to bother your crops.

If you do not give them food, they will die out or go elsewhere so you don’t have to worry about them.

The sooner you pull the weeds, the less likely the insects will stay. Weeding is important to do often to keep pests away.

7. Prune Your Trees

Leaf-footed bugs love to eat the leaves of certain plants and fruit trees like tomatoes and pomegranates. As a result, it is important to prune the branches on these trees to keep them away.

Get out a garden tool like a pruning shear or scissor and make sure to especially get any branches that are close to the ground.

Taking care of your trees can also help you to notice where the pesky insects are, so they can be removed.

8. Natural Predators

Not all bugs are pests. Some can help to drive out the less desirable ones and even do good for your crops.

Some of the useful garden bugs are spiders, wasps, tachinid flies, and assassin bugs. Know them and their eggs and be sure to let them be. In return, they will get rid of the bad guys naturally for you.

Other leaf-footed bug predators include birds, frogs, lizards, and snakes. Bluebirds, wrens, and cardinals eat stink bugs [2], so I’m assuming they’ll also eat leaf-footed bugs.

9. Trap Crop

A trap crop is a plant that will attract bugs to get them away from any plants they are destroying. If you are growing a vegetable garden, it might be helpful to add sunflowers nearby.

Sunflower is a great trap crop for the leaf footed bug. The critters love the flowers and leaves and may even leave other plants alone to get to the sunflowers.

To get rid of them, shake them out of the sunflowers, and afterward, step on or drop them into soapy water.

10. Remove the Eggs 

Leaf-footed bugs tend to lay their brown, cylindrical eggs in a thin line. You can find them on leaves, stems, or branches.

You can physically pick the eggs off and either crush them or place them into soapy water to kill them.

As you weed and water your plants, be sure to pay close attention to the eggs that you find on both sides of the leaves. The more bugs that don’t hatch, the better chance your plants have.

11. Use ECOWORKS

ECOWORKS is a great organic pesticide that can be used in the garden. Not only is it good for getting rid of pests, but it is also great for treating fungus, mites, ticks, and worms.

Its ingredients list Azadirachtin as one of the main elements that make the pesticide effective, killing the critters on contact.

Depending on how you would like to apply it, be sure to follow the instructions on the container when using it for your garden.

12. Azera

Another great natural insecticide to use against this menace is Azera.

The product uses extracts from neem trees and daisies that have been proven to work on most garden pests, including the most invasive ones.

Azera organic insecticide will kill leaf footed bugs. Moreover, with different ways to apply it in your garden, you can find an option that works for you by reading the instructions on the container.

13. Kaolin Clay

Kaolin clay is a natural crop protectant that can be sprayed around your plants to create a barrier so pests, like bad true bugs, cannot get to your precious plants.

While it can be used for most crops, it is very effective on fruit trees, grape trees, and garden plants like cucumbers and tomatoes. Moreover, with different ways to apply it, your crops will be bug-free in no time.

Related: 13 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Stink Bugs (Pentatomidae)

Takeaway

Pests are not fun and welcome in your garden, especially leaf-footed insects. Fortunately, there are many ways to ensure your garden can thrive and give you the fruits and vegetables you have worked so hard for.

With so many methods to get rid of bugs organically, your garden is sure to do amazing this year.

Image via Flickr/Katja Schulz

Sasha Brown

Blogger and lover of all things natural.

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