Insect guide > Bugs > Squash Bugs

Squash Bugs

Squash BugsThe Squash-bug and its allies
(Family Coreidae.)
This is a large and important family, divided into many sub families and containing about 1500 species of which nearly 200 inhabit the United States. The group has no popular name although these insects, in common with the members of several allied families are known as "plant bugs". Comstock calls the Coreidae "the squash-bug family" after its best-known representative, but of course this is not a distinctive name, nor does it seem possible to coin one. The Coreidae are very diverse in shape and structure, some being broad and clumsy and others thin. Some have curiously modified legs like the leaf-footed plant bug (Leptoglossus phyllopus) and the thick-thighed Metapodius (Metapodius femoratus) while others have slender normal legs.

All of these bugs feed on the juices of plants and some of them are well-known enemies of crops. A curious tropical genus - Phyllomorpha - carries its eggs upon its back. A common species in the western United States known as the boxelder plant bug (Leptocoris trivittatus) frequently does much damage to the box-elder trees which from their rapid growth are commonly planted on western tree claims.

Life History of the Squash-Bug
(Anasa tristis De Geer.)
The common "squash-bug", as this insect is called, is found all over the United States as well as in Central America. It is a serious enemy to garden plants of the pumpkin family (Cucurbitaceae), but does not damage other vegetation. The egg is 1.5 mm. long, stout, somewhat flattened on three sides and is of a yellowish-brown or dark bronze color. From twenty to forty eggs are laid in a group, each one rather well separated from the others and placed either on the under or upper surface of a leaf, or on a stem. When first hatched the little bug is light green in color with beautiful rose-colored legs, antennae and beak. Later the head and thorax become black and the abdomen gray. There are five distinct molts and the full grown bug is the dark, sordid, ugly and ill-smelling creature commonly noticed in vegetable gardens.

The adult insect hibernates, thrusting itself into some protected crevice and lays its eggs in the late spring or early summer. These hatch in about two weeks and the insect may become full grown in less than a month. There is no evidence that there is more than one generation annually from the District of Columbia northward, but further south there are probably more. Observers need not be surprised at the failure of the eggs to hatch as they are frequently parasitized by two minute eggparasites, Hadronotus anasae and Oœncyrtus anasae.