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Western Conifer Seed Bug

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Western Conifer Seed Bug

Western Conifer seed bugs primarily feed and develop on seeds of various trees and shrubs. They prefer pines, Douglas-fir and other conifers but feed on developing seeds and fruits of a wide variety of plants, including dogwood and sumac.

Western Conifer Seed Bug

Western Conifer Seed Bug

The western conifer seed bug was first described in the western United States. This true bug of the family Coreidae feeds mainly on the seeds and developing cones of several species of conifers and their respective hybrids. This bug has been expanding its range eastward. Its range extends across the northern United States into Newyork. Recent records from Pennsylvania and several other areas of the northeastern United States suggest that interstate commerce has been a factor in extending the insect’s range.

Adults are 3/4 inch long and brownish on top. The upper side of the abdomen is yellow or light orange with five transverse black patches. This orange and black pattern on the abdominal dorsum is revealed during flight. The flight pattern and loud buzz produced by this strong flying conifer pest resemble those of a bumble bee. The young nymphs of L. occidentalis are orange, and they become reddish brown after a few molts. The eggs, which are laid in chains on conifer needles, measure about 2 mm each in length.

Life cycle:According to observations made in the western United States, the western conifer seed bug produces a single generation each season. Adults emerge from overwintering sites in late May or early June and feed on one-year cones and inflorescences. Eggs laid on host conifers hatch in 10 days, and first instars feed on the needles and tender tissue of cone scales. Later, nymphs use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to feed on developing seeds. Nymphs in all five stages of development and new adults can be observed feeding on the same group of cones by mid-August, at which time the nymphs begin to reach adulthood. Adults feed on ripening seeds until early fall and then seek overwintering sites under pine bark, in dead and dry Douglas firs, and in hawk and rodent nests. At the onset of cold weather, adult western conifer seed bugs may also enter buildings in search of protected overwintering sites.

Damage:The western conifer seed bug’s consumption of Douglas-fir seeds and seeds of various other species of pine results in a substantial loss of seed crop. Thus, its direct economic impact is a reduction in the quality and viability of conifer seed crops.

The western conifer seed bug’s consumption of Douglas-fir seeds and seeds of various other species of pine results in a substantial loss of seed crop. Thus, its direct economic impact is a reduction in the quality and viability of conifer seed crops.Even though this insect does not bite or sting, it causes concern among occupants of homes, offices, and laboratories when it comes indoors. Complaints from residents increase as the insect becomes more active and conspicuous on days in the fall and spring when the temperature is above freezing. In several areas in the northeastern United States, this insect has created great alarm when large numbers of adults suddenly invade houses looking for overwintering sites.

Western Conifer Seed Bug

Western Conifer Seed Bug

Control:The western conifer seed bug frequently congregates on the outside of buildings in late summer and early fall in the northeastern United States (particularly in New York and New Jersey). The large numbers of this insect observed around windows and doors of houses suggests that these are important points of entry.Where the western conifer seed bug is a persistent nuisance in homes, the best method of control seems to be mechanical exclusion. The following strategies should be followed to prevent this insect’s invasion: replace loosely fitting screens, windows, and doors; caulk gaps around door frames, window frames, and soffits; caulk cracks behind chimneys and underneath the wood fascia; screen fireplace chimneys and attic and wall vents.

Western conifer seed bugs are also sometimes mistaken for assassin bugs (Reduviidae family). They may similarly share an overall elongate body form and pointed head but there are many physical differences to separate them. Perhaps most obvious is the broad thickening of the hind legs on the wester conifer seed bug. Assassin bugs lack this and usually have a slightly thickened pair of front legs instead. The mouthparts of assassin bugs are more conspicuous, forming a pointed beak that projects from the front of the head. The mouthparts of the leaffooted bugs are tucked more closely to the body. It is important to distinguish these two types of insects because of their very different habits. Among these are that assassin bugs, unlike the leaffooted bugs, can bite.

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