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Western Conifer Seed Bug Leptoglossus occidentalis

It is not needed to describe this animal at all, for the picture says it all. Especially the legs, which look like they have a leaf in them are very characteristic. This is true in Europe only though. This species is the only leaffooted bug among the Squash Bugs. In all other parts of the world normally footed species are very rare: the members of this family all have leaf shaped feet. That is why in the USA and Canada this family is not referred to as Squash Bugs, but as Leaffooted Bugs. By the way, reaching a length of about 20 mm, the Western Conifer Seed Bug is quite a big and impressive species.

After overwintering in the adult state, the eggs are deposited in spring on developing conifer seeds. The larvae suck on the sap stream to the seeds and live through 5 stages, before turning adult by the end of July. In October the adults will be looking for a good place to overwinter. This may be an old bird's nest, or a cavity in a tree, but very often they enter human dwellings in order to overwinter. In the USA they sometimes appear indoor in great numbers. In our parts of the world they are also often seen inside houses, but till yet not in great numbers.

In the USA this is a very common species in the Western Parts. It is considered to be a nuisance when appearing in great numbers, for the cones of the conifers will die before the seeds develop when sucked on by this species. In Europe no real damage has been reported so far.

The first Western Conifer Seed Bugs were reported from Italy in 1999. And from there it spread extremely fast. It reached Switzerland in 2002, France in 2005, Germany in 2006. In Belgium, Holland and England the first were seen by 2007. Now the species is well established in most part of coastal England and quickly expanding it range.

When taken by hand the animal will try to use its beak in defense. But usually the beak is not capable of entering the human skin. It does have another defense mechanism: it may produce an awful odour. On the other hand, when left alone it may smell like strawberries or apples.