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Spruce Cone Bug Gastrodes abietum

There are two Cone Bugs: the Spruce Cone Bug and the Pine Cone Bug. Their names tell you which trees they prefer, but they may be found on other conifers as well. They are quite similar, but easily told apart. The Spruce Cone Bug has light brown front legs with two clearly visible thorns. The first antenna segment is shorter than the head is. In the Pine Cone Bug the front legs are dark brown or even black with just one quite short thorn. The first antenna segment is longer than its head.

The Spruce Cone Bug is a lightbrown bug, except for the head, thorax and shield, which are black. They measure 5.9 to 7.2 mm. The females deposit the eggs in May in Pine Cones of the previous year. After hatching the young animals suck on both: the leaves and cones of various conifers, even though they do prefer Spruce. They may appear in the company of adults, for both larvae and adults overwinter. Adults however rarely suck on Spruce needles, but are seen on cones almost exclusively. Fresh adults may appear from July onwards.

Of the two Cone Bugs this is the less common in Britain. Yet it is not a rare animal at all. Found all over Europe, from the Polar Circle to the Mediterranean and eastwards into Siberia.