Bugs are moving in (not bed bugs this time)

Posted: November 3, 2011 - 08:54 , by ROM
Collections, Natural History, Bugs, Nature, Biodiversity | Comments () | Comment

Question: It’s fall, why are all these bugs coming into my home? I’ve never seen them before!

Western conifer seed bug; copyright ROM images

At this time of year, this is one of the most common insects that you might run into. They are relatively new to our fauna since they were not found in Ontario until about 1985. The Western Conifer Seed Bug or Leaf footed bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis, family Coreidae) is native to the West coast of North America and has slowly moved east (into Europe as well). It is adapted to a little milder climate and doesn’t really like Ontario winters (me either!). So what does it do in the fall? It looks for a nice, warm place to overwinter; sounds like your house is perfect! Most of the time they will go below the leaf litter on the forest floor or some other sheltered area but heated buildings suit them just fine.

This true bug (order Hemiptera) looks very similar to assassin bugs (which I will cover at a later date) but is easily recognizable by the zigzag white line across the wings and the alternating white and dark pattern on the sides of the abdomen.

Left: pinned specimen of Western conifer seed bug. Right: Masked bedbug hunter. Photos by Antonia Guidotti.

The nymphs and adults feed on the seeds of pine and fir trees. The impact of their feeding is on the seed crop; it doesn’t destroy the tree. They do not bite or sting people! I understand that some might consider them a nuisance, especially when they congregate in your house, but they are not harmful to you. The best thing to do is exclude them in the first place, so upgrade the caulking around windows and doors and make sure all points of entry are sealed.  This is not a bug to worry about!

For more information see:

PENNState Entomology – Western Conifer Seed Bug