I have a buddy that hangs out between my window and the screen. He keeps me company. Most days, when it’s colder, he hides in the corners where I can’t usually see him, but on the warmer days he does his funny little slow walk into the center part of the window where I can watch him. He used to have a bunch of friends that were around my doors and periodically came in to visit, but now it’s just him…
This is odd looking dude is the Western Conifer Seed Bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis. The Western Conifer Seed Bug, or WCSB or short, is a type of “leaf-footed” bug (family = Coreidae). Bugs in the family Coreidae get the name “leaf-foot” from the notable dilatation (aka unusual extra flat and broad) area on their hind leg. If you Google “tropical Coreidae” in the photos section, you can see some critters in this family get super colorful and very elaborate “leaf” feet. Technically, it’s not actually their feet that are dilated into the “leaf” shapes. It’s really their tibia that is shaped like that, but doesn’t really sound as good to say “leaf-shinned” bugs. At least I don’t think so – please let me know if you like the name “leaf-shinned” better than “leaf-footed”. Not that I can do anything to change that name even if I wanted to lol.
The Western Conifer Seed Bug is just one of about 90 different species of leaf-footed bug found throughout North America. The WSCB gets its specific name from its origin and food source. Yep, the WCSB likes to eat the sap from young conifer (pine, spruce, etc.) seedpods (cones), twigs, as well as the male flower parts of the conifers (the cone is the female part), and sometimes the needles. They will also sometimes eat sumacs and dogwoods, which I have quite a lot of at my place. The WCSB is a pest native to parts of western North America, although it has now spread all the way to the east coast as well. So not the most creative of names, but it is informative :) The scientific part of the name (the genus), Leptoglosuss, means “small tongue” in Greek. More creative, but much less informative I think.
The WCSB is generally harmless, but it will produce a rather stinky odor like many related pest bugs (aka the Marmorated Stink Bug and Boxelder Bug) if you handle them too roughly. So be gentle and don’t squash them if inside your house! Just move them outside. Unless you have conifer trees or bushes at your house. Then you might want to dispose of these funny walking critters. I don’t think the few I’ve seen around my house will cause any noticeable damage to my trees, but if you have a large population of them they can do some damage. Or ruin a seed crop if you are farming conifer seeds. My few WCSBs may even be eating the sumacs or dogwoods which are much more prolific here than the couple spruce I have.
I’m not entirely sure how my window buddy got into the window as it hasn’t been open for quite a long time, but I guess it figured a way in there so it can figure a way out if it needs to. It is pretty common for these guys to try to come inside our nice warm human houses to hide out during the winter. In the wild they sometimes hijack mouse or other rodent nests for a warm winter hideaway. Not that I should be too concerned for its well-being since it is a pest species, but I do kinda like watching him do his funny walk on my screen. I can be a bit of an odd duck though :) I usually try to leave things alone unless they do significant damage – or unless I’m running a survey or experiment of some kind. Which I’m not right now, so I’d say my funny window buddy is pretty safe where he is. As long as he doesn’t get too cold over the winter. We’ll see how he does.
Here’s a video of my window buddy (or one of his friends) awkwardly walking around on my sliding door:
To read more about the Western Conifer Seed Bug, check out these resources:
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Now you can get prints of some of our favorite critters on Red Bubble! Everything from tote bags and pillows, to greeting cards and note books, to t-shirts and mugs!
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