Friday, April 1, 2016

The Spring Thaw Begins! Leptoglossus occidentalis, the western conifer seed bug

Earlier this week my labmate came in with a hitchhiker. Being as we are an ecology laboratory, we gathered 'round and identify our new lab pet (who has since been released outside again).

Leptoglossus occidentalis - I rather like this bug's funky patterns.
This individual is likely an adult just emerging from its overwinter hibernation, as the weather has been quite warm for the last few days and very rainy. It is missing one hind leg, unfortunately.

We've identified it as Leptoglossus occidentalis, the western conifer seed bug [1]. Despite the implication of its common name, this insect has actually been found as far East as Nova Scotia [2], though it has been suggested that this might represent a fairly recent range expansion. L. occidentalis has also been recently introduced to Europe, where it is considered invasive [2].

The common name is slightly misleading in that it implies that L. occidentalis eats the seeds of conifers. Actually, it eats the sap of conifers, collecting it at the base of developing cones; as a consequence of L. occidentalis sucking sap from the base of cones, the cones can end up being malformed or failing to develop (and thus end up with reduced seed production).

Since the weather is starting to turn and I have started to see flowers emerging on the trees and from the ground, the season has returned for me to blog a bit! I may not blog with the same frequency as last year, but I will make an effort to update regularly.

[1] Kaufman, Kenn, and Eaton, Eric R. 2006. Field Guide to Insects of North America. Hillstar Editions LC, Rocky Ridge.

No comments:

Post a Comment