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Western Conifer Seed Bugs Seeking Winter Shelter

western conifer seed bug 049A6232Every year I receive questions about this unusual-looking insect which is often found on and in houses in the fall. As a result, I publish a post about it every couple of years.  For those of you with good memories, please excuse the repetition.

Roughly 30 years ago Western Conifer Seed Bugs (Leptoglossus occidentalis) started moving east. They are now well established coast to coast. Here in the East they seek shelter during the winter, often choosing to share our domiciles with us. Fear not – though they look fairly menacing, they will do you no harm. Western Conifer Seed Bugs do not bite or sting, and in their semi-dormant condition they do not feed or breed. If you choose not to co-habit with these bugs, be forewarned. When disturbed, they can emit a noxious smell.

In the spring they will vacate your house and feed on the sap of the young cones and flowers of conifers, including Eastern White Pine, Red Pine, Scotch Pine, White Spruce and Eastern Hemlock. Mating takes place, eggs are laid and the young nymphs feed on conifer seeds which they find by detecting the infrared radiation that the cones emit.

These bugs are also called “leaf-footed bugs,” and if you look at their hind legs you will see that a section, the tibia, is flattened. Some species display this specialized leg structure during courtship, and others may use it for defense purposes.

23 responses

  1. Cathie Creed

    Are these bugs the same as stink bugs??

    October 20, 2017 at 8:18 am

  2. Alice Pratt

    There’s a similar looking bug, here in MA, maybe a tad longer & it’s antennae are longer, flowing over it’s back…they also come in the house. Don’t seem to harm anything.

    October 20, 2017 at 8:34 am

  3. I have the same question as above–are these stink bugs? I have always thought they were cute and, for no reason whatsoever, our family has named them “doodlebugs”. I have never tried to remove one so maybe that’s why I’ve never experienced the stink!

    October 20, 2017 at 8:37 am

  4. Evergreen Erb

    Are these the same as Box Elder Beetles? That’s what I’ve been calling them, and I have no idea where I got the name from.

    October 20, 2017 at 9:03 am

    • No, box elders beetles are very different. If you go to my blog and search for “box elder beetle” I did a post on them a while ago.

      October 20, 2017 at 3:19 pm

  5. Louise Garfield

    Now I understand why this bug is so slow. Is it the same as the assassin bug?
    And does it damage the conifers in the spring?

    October 20, 2017 at 9:42 am

  6. Bugguide refers to the family Pentatomidae as stink bugs, but these appear to be another

    October 20, 2017 at 10:00 am

  7. Thanks for this ID. Have one of these already as a VT bedroom guest, happy to dwell on my curtain except for a few exercising flights on warmer days. A quick look at suggests that “stink bug” might apply to more than one lineage strand under the Pentatomomorpha infraorder, but this isn’t the one they specifically call out. I too have had other species in my old Massachusetts office every winter and grew very fond of them. They’re slow and deliberate in their movements and seem to appreciate some warm-blooded contact on cold days. My visitors would sit on my hand while I typed for long periods of time.

    October 20, 2017 at 10:11 am

  8. Bill On The Hill...

    For arguments sake, I call them stink bugs. Just last night in fact, what I thought was a wasp on my bedroom wall was in fact a stink bug, I realized this after I had swatted it with the fly swatter & oh yes, after a quick sniff test I realized I squished a stink bug… I think I mentioned this in last years comments, typically I grab the insect carefully by it’s antenna, the stink spray emits from the tip of the abdomen, missing me most the time & I then fling it out the door leaving it to it’s own devises… :>)
    Bill Farr…

    October 20, 2017 at 10:22 am

  9. Polly Forcier

    When we were kids we called them “stink bugs”. I lived in Hingham MA at the time.

    October 20, 2017 at 11:55 am

  10. Kathryn Connell

    I like the name that my friend (and now I) call them. Sprickets! They look sort of crickety, sort of spidery and so – sprickets. I am so very glad to read that other people just leave them be in their homes. They don’t hurt anything and can occasionally entertain a cat. The cats don’t bother them – perhaps they have come in contact with the stink before.

    October 20, 2017 at 12:01 pm

  11. Maureen Bogosian

    Can you send me the 2018 calendar information please

    Sent from my iPhone


    October 20, 2017 at 3:18 pm

  12. Last Minute Lynn

    Are these what are commonly called stink bugs? They are prehistorically creepy!

    October 20, 2017 at 3:32 pm

  13. Little stinkers! 😉

    October 20, 2017 at 8:27 pm

  14. Susan Fraser

    I have been fascinated by these bugs, who share my house, for years. I love to watch their slow stately gait, and appreciate their patterned appearance. Thank you for the information about them.

    October 20, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    • I love them too! Let’s form a fan club 😊

      October 24, 2017 at 8:39 am

  15. Dudley Carlson

    Interesting that Kathy calls these “doodlebugs.” In North Carolina, we used that term for ant lions (Myrmeleontidae), which wait in funnel-shaped traps in sand for unsuspecting ants to venture down (and be gobbled). Great photo of this bug!

    October 21, 2017 at 11:35 pm

  16. Susannah

    To my nose the scent they emit smells a little like pears.

    October 22, 2017 at 7:39 am

  17. Just today, as I was changing the sheets, I found one on our mattress – it had been under the sheets! I trapped it in a jar and let it out.

    October 22, 2017 at 10:03 pm

  18. Eric Small

    I would enjoy receiving your blog posts!

    October 23, 2017 at 7:10 pm

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