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Western Conifer Seed Bugs are a Northeastern Pest!

By Chris Williams on October 9, 2015.

We’ve been getting calls from customers about “creepy-looking” bugs on both the outside and inside of their homes. Of course that description could be anything, but we’ve found that in many of these cases folks are referring to the Western conifer seed bug. This bug rings alarm bells because for most of us in the Northeast it is a pest that we’re not familiar with. As its name suggests, this seed bug was found originally in the western U.S. and has been slowly extending its range eastward. It is now well established in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

1. What Do Seed Bugs Look Like?

The Western conifer seed bug is almost an inch long, brownish, with a light orange border around its abdomen, marked by five black patches on each side. It has long antennae and expanded, flattened areas on its hind legs. The flattened leg projections are somewhat in the shape of leaves (it belongs to a family called “leaf-footed bugs”) and are a distinctive identifying feature. The Western conifer seed bug can fly and makes a buzzing sound when it does so.

2. What Do Seed Bugs Do?

We don’t see much of the Western conifer seed bug until fall. That’s because it normally feeds outside on the seeds and cones of conifer trees. But in fall, it becomes one of our “fall-invading pests” as it tries to find its way inside to spend the winter. If you have pines, spruces, or Douglas firs on your property, you are more likely to have seed bugs in your home this winter (see Seed Bugs – Another Home Invader Revealed!).

Fortunately, the seed bugs don’t bite or sting, or reproduce inside, or damage anything in your home, although they can release a stinky liquid when disturbed. They are mostly temporary nuisance pests. In fact, once they are inside your home, you will see very little of them as they hide in cracks and crevices, in wall voids, or in the attic. But on extra warm, sunny days in winter, they may wander out of hiding thinking that it’s time to return to the outside (see Winter Bugs in Your House Are About to Wake Up!)

3. How Can We Get Rid of Seed Bugs?

The best control for these bugs is to keep them out in the first place because they are hard to find once inside. You can keep them out by pest-proofing your home — replacing screens, caulking gaps, adding door thresholds, basically sealing the bugs out. You can also keep them out by having a timed pesticide treatment around the outside perimeter of your home. That late summer/fall treatment should coincide with the time that the bugs are first climbing walls to get inside (see Keeping Seed Bugs Out This Fall). For the occasional wandering seed bug, a vacuum works perfectly well.

Call Colonial if you’re having problems with seed bugs, stink bugs, lady beetles, or any other fall-invading pest. P.S., we do pest-proofing, too, so you don’t have to.

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