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Leaf-footed Bug (Acanthocephala spp.)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Leaf-footed Bug



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The stout and sturdy Leaf-footed Bug will fight with males of its own species, but takes flight at the first sign of any other danger.



Updated: 08/17/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The hefty Leaf-footed Bug has a wide, prominent carapace (shoulder region) that somewhat resembles armor. The males of this large, plant-eating family have unusually thick thighs, often edged with spikes. Their lower legs may also be flat and shaped somewhat like a dried leaf. These parts of the leg are used to fight other males in order to win a female to mate with. Leaf-Footed Bugs may be heard when they fly. A foul odor can also be emitted as a defensive adaptation. Adults fly very well, and dash away if approached.

Nymphs feed on ash trees and other plants. They have flared and spiky abdomens that may curl upward when approached. Without wings at this younger life stage, they resemble the nymphs of Assassin Bugs.

The majority of species are found in the southern United States, but they range across the entire North American continent. Some prefer arid deserts, while others prefer humid, more tropical climes or temperate forests. All adults feed on plant juices and can be found on a variety of vegetation including prairie plants like Joe-Pye Weed, goldenrods, and hawthorns as well as on trees and shrubs.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Insect antennae icon
Flying insect icon
Spiny / Spiky insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Hemiptera
        Family: Coreidae
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          Genus: Acanthocephala
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            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Acanthocephala spp.
Category: True Bug
Size (Adult; Length): 10mm to 22mm (0.39" to 0.86")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; gray; black; red; yellow; orange; white
Descriptors: thighs, spikes, legs, flying, butt, antennae

Leaf-Footed-Bug Video(s)




A female Leaf-footed Bug laying a row of eggs on the leaf of a houseplant.
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 10mm and 22mm
Lo: 10mm
Md: 16mm
Hi: 22mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
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Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Leaf-footed Bug may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Leaf-footed Bug. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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