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Leptoglossus occidentalis: the western conifer seed bug

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Leptoglossus occidentalis: the western conifer seed bug

The western conifer seed bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis) is a native of the west coast of the USA so how did I take this photograph of one in my greenhouse? It seems to have come with imported timber being first recorded in Europe in 1999 with records first from Italy and then the Balkans, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, France and across the Alps. At the same time it has spread across much of North America and has now been found as far east as Nova Scotia. The first British record came from Weymouth in 2007 and, given the amount of pine plantation in Dorset, it is probably now quite well established here.

As its name suggests it is dependant on pine trees where it sucks the sap from developing pine cones which has the effect of withering the life from the cone preventing the seeds forming. It is considered a pest in some areas but I think here in Dorset we should welcome it given the Corsican pine plantations here are not native and are now of little value. 

It is a distinctive creature, quite large as bugs go at almost an inch long, and with distinctive and clear markings. It has long legs with 'pads' on the rear pair. It may look a bit fearsome but it is quite harmless and does not bite but it does, like many insects, emit a stinking bitter smell. If you need to handle one wear gloves but do not kill it, let it go in peace.



This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon