Western Conifer Seed Bugs
- Scientific name: Leptoglossus occidentalis
- Size: 7/10th of an inch
- Color: Variable, but always alternating bands of dark and light
- Shape: The main body is basically shield shaped with a small, narrow head, long and long, jointed legs with wide “hind feet”
- Found in: California, Oregon, Nevada
Another species of “true bug” the western conifer seed bug is often mistaken for the leaf-footed bug and stink beetles, though they are neither. Though, like it’s relative, the assassin beetle, the western conifer seed bug has been known to stab with their proboscis when provoked, it is not physically harmful to humans. The first line of predator defense for the western conifer seed bug is to spray a bitter tasting, chemical compound, which can sometimes smell like apples or pine, but usually just smells offensive to humans.
Signs of Infestation
In a grove of conifers, it is often difficult to readily spot this species of pest because they feed on the seeds, which are located rather high up in most species. If a conifer grove is producing noticeably lower numbers of seeds than usual, this might be a sign of infestation. As these are a larger species of pest insect, it is also possible that if they exist in high enough numbers, you can spot the western conifer seed bug congregating on an affected tree. In a human home, the western conifer seed bug can be spotted rather easily as their distinct shape and coloration makes it difficult for them to blend in. They most often will enter warmer structures in search of a place to stay during the winter months. They will not usually cause serious damage, but they have been known to pierce certain types of tubing with their proboscis, which can cause leaks.
The western conifer seed bug prefers a warmer environment. They make their home on the same trees they infest, and in the wild they over-winter under the bark of the very tree on which they feed. They become a nuisance to humans when they enter homes and businesses seeking shelter from the weather. As they congregate around windows and doors, it is thought that these are the main points of entry into the home. The western conifer seed bug prefers older homes and businesses as they are easier to gain entry to.
The western conifer seed bug feed primarily on different species of conifer evergreens, but can survive on other tree species. They feed mainly on the seeds of these trees. This behavior can be devastating to the seed crop of a commercial pine groves. They pierce the outer covering of the seed to feed upon the contents, which causes the seeds to shrivel or to be malformed. This pest seems to be dependent on the same compounds that resinous trees have developed to defend themselves from herbivores.
Treatment and Prevention
As with a great many home invading pest species, the western conifer seed bug is best blocked by making sure that your home is relatively tightly shut so that these pests cannot gain entry. As they are a larger species, this is a great deal easier to prevent than, say, blocking the entry of a termite.