Posts Tagged ‘squash bugs’


I was making a mug of tea the other evening, when I noticed a winter house guest meandering about the countertop: a Western Conifer Seed Bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis). It’s a member of the leaf-footed bug family, so named for the widened section of their back legs. In North America, there are about 80 species of leaf-footers. Most are to be found in the southern reaches of the continent. As you can tell by the name, this particular species is a native of the western half of the continent. Western Conifer Seed Bugs were first spotted in Ontario about 1985.

They can be distinguished from other leaf-footers by the zigzaggy white line across their back. They have wings and can fly, but mostly seem content to stroll about. The wings have two parts, a hard, protective upper section and a lower membranous section that is useful for flight. For more information about Western Conifer Seed Bugs, and some great close-up photos, visit The Marvelous in Nature.


Leaf-footers are members of the Coreidae family, which includes squash bugs. Squash bugs feed on squash foliage using piercing and sucking mouthparts. Later in the season, they may also feed on the squash itself. I found these squash bugs (Anasa tristis) on a squash a few years ago. Although there were quite a few bugs on the plant, they didn’t damage this squash.

Conifer Seed Bugs use a long feeding tube to pierce conifer seeds, primarily pine but also spruce and fir. The bug feeds on the seeds as they’re developing, while the interior is still soft and pulpy. They don’t generally cause damage to trees, even when present in large numbers. They don’t bite or sting and are harmless to people, too.

Having no conifer seeds on hand, I offered my visitor tea, but he made no response. I don’t know where he came from or where he went, but when I returned later with my empty mug, he was gone.


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