leaf-footed bug

(Acanthocephala terminalis)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

leaf-footed bug


not listed


not listed


Widespread and frequently encountered


One generation per year: early June to late September


Open woods, woodland borders and paths, thickets, and roadsides.


Total Length: 11 16 to


This is a 11 16 to long, terrestrial, widespread and frequently encountered true bug. It is a relatively large bug (order Hemiptera) but a small leaf-footed bug (genus Acanthocephala), the smallest in North America north of Mexico.

The body is fairly hard and reddish-brown to nearly black. The front (anterior) thoracic shield (pronotum) is covered with short, gold-colored hairs and with small bumps (tubercles).

There are two pairs of wings. They are held flat over the body when at rest. They are longer than the body but do not completely cover the sides of the body.

There are two pairs of wings, and they are held flat over the body when at rest. The forewings (hemelytra) on the mature adult are longer than the abdomen but do not completely cover the sides of the abdomen. They have a thickened section at the base and a thin membranous section at the tip with a clear dividing line between the two. The thickened basal part is comprised of a triangular section (scutellum) at the base; a narrow area (clavus) behind the scutellum when the wings are closed; and the remaining, broad, marginal area (corium). The hindwings are thin, membranous, and concealed under the forewings.

The head is small, much narrower and somewhat shorter than the pronotum. There is a pair of large compound eyes and a pair of small simple eyes (occelli). The mouth parts are optimized for piercing and sucking. They take the form of a long, 4-segmented beak. The beak projects in front of the head and extends along the underside of the body between the legs. It consists of 4 hair-like blades (stylets) with sharp tips enclosed in a 4-segmented sheath. There are two channels in the beak, one spitting out saliva to keep the food flowing, and one for sucking in liquid food. The two lower jaw-like structures (maxillae) and two lower lips do not have feeler-like structures (palpi) attached. The antennae are exposed, conspicuous, and long, much longer than the head. They have four segments, the basal three dark reddish-brown, the terminal segment bright yellowish-orange.

The third segment (femur) of the hind leg is is stout and either parallel-sided or only slightly expanded toward the end (apex). The fourth segment (tibia) is greatly dilated and scalloped in the basal half, gradually narrowing beyond the middle toward apex, and not at all dilated in the final third. The female tibia is less dilated than the male tibia. The feet (tarsi) have only 3 segments. The tarsi on all legs and the femurs on the front and middle legs are frequently orange or orangish.



Larval Food

Sap from petioles and stems of common ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), and wild grape (Vitis riparia).

Adult Food

Plant sap. Adults have been observed on bird droppings but it is not known if they feed on the droppings.

Life Cycle

Bright whitish eggs are deposited singly from mid-June to mid-July. The eggs hatch in 7 to 14 days. The young (nymphs) pass through 5 instar stages in 5 to 10 weeks (mean time 58 days) before becoming an adult. The mean number of days spent as the first through fifth instars is 4, 13, 13, 10, and 19, respectively. Adults overwinter.


They are easily disturbed and are rapid fliers. When handled they squirt a foul-smelling chemical from glands on the sides of their bodies that is an effective deterrent.

Immature individuals are usually concealed, either on the underside of a leaf or on the stem of a plant.

Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 7, 29.


There are 25 known species of leaf-footed bugs (genus Acanthocephala) worldwide, 5 of which occur in North America north of Mexico. Among these, Acanthocephala terminalis has by far the widest distribution and is the only one found in Minnesota.



Hemiptera (true bugs, cicadas, hoppers, aphids and allies)


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Heteroptera (true bugs)


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Coreoidea (leatherbugs)



Coreidae (leaf-footed bugs)








Acanthocephala confraterna

Metapodius confraternus

Metapodius terminalis


leaf-footed bug








On insects and arachnids, the third, largest, most robust segment of the leg, coming immediately before the tibia. On humans, the thigh bone.



The forewing of true bugs (Order Hemiptera), thickened at the base and membranous at the tip. Plural: hemelytra.



The developmental stage of arthropods between each molt; in insects, the developmental stage of the larvae or nymph.



Simple eye; an eye with a single lens. Plural: ocelli.



The stalk of a leaf blade or compound leaf that attaches the leaf blade to the stem.



The saddle-shaped, exoskeletal plate on the upper side of the first segment of the thorax of an insect.



The exoskeletal plate covering the rearward (posterior) part of the middle segment of the thorax in some insects. In Coleoptera, Hemiptera, and Homoptera, the dorsal, often triangular plate behind the pronotum and between the bases of the front wings. In Diptera, the exoskeletal plate between the abdomen and the thorax.



The last two to five subdivisions of an insect’s leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. Plural: tarsi.



The fourth segment of an insect leg, after the femur and before the tarsus (foot).






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  leaf-footed bug   leaf-footed bug



  leaf-footed bug (Acanthocephala terminalis)
Bill Keim
  leaf-footed bug (Acanthocephala terminalis)  



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Other Videos
  Leaf Footed BUG - Acanthocephala terminalis
Mark Berman

Published on Apr 23, 2012

  Leaf-footed Bug
Carol Snow Milne

Published on Jun 7, 2012

Acanthocephala terminalis - On the deck, Poconos, PA




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