Gardening and Living in Grand Style
Western conifer seed bug…
by Michael Johnson
Utah State University Extension Agent, Grand County
Nov 01, 2012 | 511 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A couple of weeks ago, I started receiving calls about an abundance of a particular insect congregating in and around homes in both Spanish Valley and Castle Valley. As mentioned previously in the Oct. 4 article, “Cooler weather spurs insects to look for a winter home,” this is not an uncommon occurrence in the fall.

The concern this time, beyond people’s lack of interest in housing numerous insects in their homes, was whether this was an infestation of the conenose bug, sometimes referred to as the kissing bug or another insect.

As it turns out, thanks to Bob Phillips of Moab Mosquito Abatement, who keyed the insect out, it is the Western conifer seed bug, which is a type of leaf-footed bug. These insects can vary in color from a dark gray to a reddish brown, are five-eights to three-quarters of an inch long and have a narrow zigzagging white line across the forewings or what many of us might term the back. Another distinguishing feature is the broadening of the tibia, a portion of the back leg. This broadening is considered “leaf-like” hence the designation as a leaf-footed bug. They can fly and like to congregate under covers like tarps or in cracks and crevices or in homes but are harmless and won’t bite.

As you would expect with a designation like seed bug, they like to feed on seeds, especially those of pines, such as the ponderosa pine, but also Douglas fir, sumac and dogwood. The adults overwinter in plant debris and in early spring they will feed on the male flowers of their choice plants and also pine cones that are a year old. The females will lay eggs in late spring or early summer and the young nymphs will feed on seeds throughout the summer. The nymphs mature in late summer and those adults will again feed on pine cones.

In terms of control, they aren’t generally considered a problem insect. But they can be a nuisance, so it’s always wise to make sure your home is well-sealed. When they do get inside, sweep or vacuum them up. It’s questionable as to whether the use of insecticides outside the home is practical. Besides, now that we are getting some freezing temperatures, the insects will be snuggling into plant debris.

As to the conenose, or kissing bug, it has been found in our area and is similar in size and, to some degree, overall shape to the western conifer seed bug and is usually dark brown to black in color. However, it does not have the broadened or leaf shaped tibia. It also does not appear that they are found in large numbers like we are seeing with the western conifer seed bug. Occurrences of the conenose are usually one or two bugs at a time.

Phillips has studied the conenose a bit and made an observation that they seem to be attracted to outside lights, and the research I have done agrees with that. So perhaps not leaving floodlights on at night would be best.

Thought for the day: “I don’t care how small or big they are, insects freak me out.” —Alexander Wang

For more information about these topics call the Utah State University Extension Grand County office at 259-7558 or email Mike Johnson at mike.johnson@usu.edu.




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