Leaf Bug Identification

Written by brenda priddy
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Leaf Bug Identification
Leaf bugs can easily disguise themselves among the foliage of plants. (leafs image by Jester71.com from Fotolia.com)

Leaf insects are some of the most intriguing insects on earth. The group of insects that mimics their leafy surroundings are often referred to as leaf bugs. The insect has the ability to blend with its surroundings in startling detail. To the untrained eye, these insects can be nearly impossible to locate when surrounded by their natural habitat. Leaf bugs are classified under the family Phylliidae and genus Phyllium.

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Features

Leaf bugs share several commonalities in their life cycle, diet and reproductive system. The young nymphs of all leaf bugs are very susceptible to bramble leaves, as they contain a chemical that is fatal to them. However, brambles are harmless to older nymphs and make up a very large portion of their diets. Most species of leaf bugs inhabit Asia and the Pacific islands. Leaf bugs are all considered nocturnal.

Origins

All leaf bugs originate from Asian regions. Phyllium celebicum are found in several Pacific islands such as the Philippines and Sulawesi. Thailand is also home to several varieties of celebicum. Phyllium giganteum is one of the largest species of the leaf insects; these are native to the rainforests of Asia. Phyllium siccifolium originate from West Malaysia.

Identification

Celebicum nymphs start their life cycle as a shade of brown and slowly turn green as they begin to feed. Celebicum nymphs are identified by the white stripes that are located on their legs. Adults are a light shade of green and the abdominal segments are curved upwards and resemble a curling leaf. Fully grown adults have wings, but only the more slender males are capable of flight. Adult giganteum can grow up to 5 to 6 inches long and have a very broad and flat thorax and abdomen segments. Giganteum have a very lush green colouring with light tan and brown patches along the edges that resemble the dying edge of a leaf. Their diet consists mainly of oak, bramble and eucalyptus. Phyllium siccifolium can be identified by a raised structure on the back of their abdomen that resembles the central vein of a leaf.

Significance

Since leaf bugs look just like leaves, they are less susceptible to getting eaten by predators. This causes the bugs to be able to reproduce rapidly, and the leaf bugs are quite prevalent in their host regions. Leaf bugs are not as prevalent in the United States because they prefer rainforest conditions. In the United States the bugs are sometimes sold as novelty pets.

Misconceptions

Leaf bugs do not eat other bugs, even though their pincers look like they could easily attack and eat other bugs. Leaf bugs eat many different types of leaves, but prefer the leaves that are grown in their native climate. Some of the leaves that the bugs eat include eucalyptus, mango, guava, rose and bramble leaves.

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