11 October 2012
Leaf-Footed Squash Bug
From the order Hemiptera, which means half-winged, these insects have a partially hardened forewing, while the rest of it is membranous. Leaf-footed means that part of their hind legs are flattened, possibly resembling a leaf. They have sucking mouthparts - a proboscis pierces the plant tissue and sucks out the liquids. While some bugs transmit pathogens, it is unclear whether this one does, although any damage to plant tissue can be an opportunity for diseases to infect the host plant. They also can be a lot larger than other garden pests, measuring a inch or more, including the antennae.
In the spring, eggs are laid typically on the underside of a leaf of a member of the Curcubit family - squash, cucumber, pumpkin, etc. In about ten days the eggs hatch and the nymphs begin feeding on the host plant and in about 4-6 weeks they will have grown into adults, having completed simple metamorphosis. The adults don't mate, but overwinter until spring when they emerge, mate and begin the whole life cycle again.
The best control for this pest is vigilance. Check regularly for egg clusters, hand pick individual bugs from plants, remove dead host plants and cultivate the soil, hopefully disturbing their winter resting places.