Western Conifer Seed Bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Western Conifer Seed Bug.
Updated: 8/14/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Western Conifer Seed Bug has spread eastward to cooler climates, but it still consumes the seeds of evergreen trees.
Western Conifer Seed Bugs originated on the West Coast of the U.S., but have migrated east all the way to Atlantic states and provinces. Ground transportation of goods from coast to coast likely helped in spreading their range. They typically prefer warm climates and populations attempt to survive the cold northern winters by entering warm homes and buildings when the seasons change. These small invasions have made them a nuisance to homeowners. Groups of Western Conifer Seed Bugs can enter a house, office building or warehouse in the autumn through torn window screens, open doors and chimneys. Though they aren't known to bite, their presence causes uneasiness to many people.
The primary diet of this species is the soft seed of pine trees, Douglas firs and other cone-bearing trees (hence 'conifer' in their name). They also eat the buds of cones and new needles. They pierce the tender plant parts and suck them dry. This had led to a diminished seed supply in forests, meaning fewer conifer trees are sown that season and new tree growth decreases in that area. This is another reason why the Western Conifer Seed Bug is considered a pest. Many of the conifer trees they eat from are also used by people for lumber and Christmas trees.
A type of Leaf-Footed Bug, Western Conifer Seed Bugs have long bodies and wide, flattened 'thighs'. This species has small spikes on the upper hind legs and a light, white marking across the elytra (wing covering). They are flying insects and are known to buzz while in flight, which can make them easier to find. The bright yellow and black contrasting bands along the sides of the abdomen are highly visible in flight and may lead an observer to first think it is a bee. Like other Leaf-Footed Bugs, it can emit an odor when threatened or crushed; this one's is likened to the scent of pine.