Western Conifer Seed Bug Seeks Snug Warm Winter Home in Mississauga Ontario

Apparently somewhere written in Bug on the side of our house is “Winter Rental. Warm! Cozy! Safe from all predators! Apply within. No references required.” I haven’t found where yet, but each fall brings a new prospective tenant.

A few years ago, it was Multi-coloured Asian Lady Beetles. We had dozens of them on the white siding and three or four actually inside the house. Another year, it was box elder bugs sitting in the strawberry planters on the south side. This fall brought a new potential room mate. And frankly, it was a bit intimidating.

Photo of Western Conifer Seed Bug

This bug is bigger than the photo suggests. It was almost an inch long (20 mm). Given its extra long legs and antennae, it also looked wide. And it was crawling up a cable at eye level when my child passed by it to check the mail box. Eeks!

Luckily, unlike the assassin bugs, this one is a harmless, if somewhat stinky, visitor. Assassin bugs have been known to bite, hard. This one doesn’t bite, but if it feels threatened it can release an unpleasant odour.

I did look at photos of assassin bugs first, trying to identify it. But none of them had the extra wide leg segment that was so obvious on this bug. And their antennae all looked too flimsy.

Operating under one of my favourite strategies “If I’m seeing it, someone else is too” I checked the “Recent” id requests on BugGuide. And there was another one of these bugs, already reported and identified.

Leptoglossus occidentalis is a leaf-footed bug. Yep, I guess I’m not the only one who wondered if that extra-wide leg segment was supposed to look “leafy.” On the other hand, the trees it lives in don’t have leaves, in the regular sense, so I’m not sure why the legs look like that. This is a Western Conifer Seed Bug. The leaves around it normally are needles.

Photo of Western Conifer Seed Bug In Motion

Western, You Ask?
Our Northern Walkingsticks are only found in Southern Canada. (See: Female Northern Walkingstick in Riverwood Park, Mississauga) And now I find that our Western Conifer Seed Bugs are found in New Brunswick, Québec and Ontario, which sounds more Eastern-Central to me! Since they are also found in Western Canada, I think they should consider dropping the “Western” and just calling them Conifer Seed Bugs. But the naming powers-that-be will likely just tell me that a Leptoglossus is a Leptoglossus and to start learning Latin.

Originally, Leptoglossus occidentalus was found only in the western parts of North America. They’ve been working their way east steadily. Recent reports on BugGuide include sightings in Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. They have also been introduced to Europe.

Seeking Warm Winter Rest Home
These Conifer Seed Bugs usually have only one hatch of offspring a year. The adults mature in the fall and seek a sheltered hiding place till spring. Then they emerge and lay eggs on tree needles which hatch and begin the cycle again.

This tendency to look for warm hiding places makes them noticeable to people. They appear on siding and sidewalks, drawn by the escaping heat of our homes. According to BugGuide.net “Adults may wander indoors late in the season looking for shelter to spend the winter.”

What do Conifer Seed Bugs Eat?
Luckily, these are herbivores. The nymphs and adults both eat sap from twigs and green cones. They will also eat seed pulp, flowers, and sometimes needles of certain types of pines, hemlock, spruce and Douglas fir trees.

This makes it a bit of a mystery bug. We don’t have any conifers on our property. Our neighbours generally don’t either. There is one Scotch pine not too far away, and some spruces. I suspect this means these bugs are willing to fly quite a ways to find a good winter home.

Sorry, No Rooms
As far as I am aware, this Conifer Seed Bug didn’t manage to find winter accommodations in my home. Hopefully, it settled for under the porch or somewhere similar.

Further Information
For more photos and info, check out the BugGuide at http://bugguide.net/node/view/3393 .

Join In
Have you seen one of these Western Conifer Seed Bugs? Was it in the west? Or if it went any further east would it have landed in the British Isles? Please share your observations with a comment.

40 thoughts on “Western Conifer Seed Bug Seeks Snug Warm Winter Home in Mississauga Ontario

  1. Our newly built house in northwest Montana USA has been invaded by these and there are thousands if them. We have only insulation and plywood walls and they are in our bed at night…they DO bite as my husband has been bitten twice in the night.

  2. I just found one of these Western Conifer Seed Bugs crawling up a filing cabinet in my office in north Mississauga (Derry & Tomken Roads). He must have been seeking shelter from the winter cold (Nov 12/13).

    • Yes, it was probably looking for a place to hibernate safely. They’re a bit unpleasant to look at up close but they are harmless thankfully. (Unless you’re a spruce tree!) Thanks for sharing your encounter!

  3. We just squished one of these fellas next to the Christmas tree here on Christmas Eve in Ottawa. At first we thought he or she was an assassin bug as well, but he smelled very pine-fresh once he was spilled in the tissue we grabbed him with. We figure he must have hitched a ride in on the tree, nasty but educational!

    • Well luckily they don’t bite and they don’t ruin your house, so if there is another still hiding in the branches you won’t have much problem. Thanks for sharing your interesting surprise “gift” story!

  4. We live on 10+ acres in Springwater Township not far from Wasaga Beach. We’re surrounded by forest and tons of conifers. No surprise, we see lots of these. They are slow and tend to appear in the house during mild winter weather (when it’s minus 20 outside, they stay hidden somewhere – maybe in the walls or attic?).

    In the fall we see them on the outside of our screens and somehow they do get in. Although annoying (one was crawling on my mother ‘s face while she slept), they haven’t bitten at all.

    Is this also called a stinkbug?


    • I’m sorry to hear they like the share your home in winter. No fun!
      They aren’t a true stink bug, but they can make an unpleasant smell when they are squashed.
      I hope you’re having a decent winter with no power outages. : )

  5. We are just north of Newmarket Ont, and we too have found numerous of them in our new addition , and all though very few pines or spruce around our lot, the neighbours have several and we have a lot of cedars, my suspicion why so many of them are enjoying the comfort of our new addition may be due to the fact that all the lumber we use in homes is spruce, pine or fir so the scent would naturally be attracting them along with the warmth and shelter

    • That certainly does seem like a reasonable explanation for why they would come to your new space. Sorry to hear they’ve been invading. Thank you for sharing your sighting, as others from Newmarket may be experiencing the same issue!

  6. Just squashed one in our bedroom! Yuck!! We are in Nova Scotia, Canada. This is the first I’ve ever seen such a bug in our home. I’m hoping that one alone is not a sure sign of infestation?!

    • They don’t usually live in our houses and homes, so no I don’t think you need to worry too much. It’s usually just one or two insects seeking warmth that show up unexpectedly. You could always just flip it with a newspaper into the waste bin and then shake it outside if you don’t want to squish such a large insect.

      Sorry it came in uninvited and thanks for sharing your sighting!

  7. We live in a 175 year old house in south Etobicoke. When we first moved in 11 years ago we saw our first of these, of course it was disconcerting! My biggest concern was damage to our old timber, since this isn’t a problem, I leave them alone. We find them year round, always in the loft and second floor (funny enough I haven’t seen one outside). Even the cat has learned to ignore them.
    So unless I am missinformed and they do damage to the house, (what do they eat ?)we will coexist.

    • They should be fine from what I’ve read they don’t damage homes. These insects feed “mainly on the seeds and developing cones of several species of conifers and their respective hybrids” according to the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Department of Entomology website (http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/western-conifer-seedbug). They come into buildings looking for a place to rest safely and preferably warmly.

      They certainly are startling to see though! Thanks for sharing your sighting.

  8. I just found my second one of these in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. I think he may have munched on some flower seedlings my kids and I had started :(

    • It’s possible but that’s not what they usually eat. Sorry to hear something has been after your seedlings! It takes so long to start plants it’s not nice to lose any. I’ll hope that the rest of them are thriving!

  9. I have had encounters for four years now,and I now know what type of bug this is,thankyou .they are awfull crawly things that get to close for comfort,they get in through windows and screens. Petawawa, ontarie

  10. I have been finding these in our house this Sping in Wisconsin and I was so worried it was a kissing bug. Tonight I finally took a picture and compared online! Relieved it is not a kissing bug but I want them out of my house!😣

    • Hopefully they are on their way out and just a few have headed the wrong direction and ended up inside. I hope they’ll all be gone SOON! Thanks for sharing your sighting, too!

  11. I first noticed these guys three years ago. I looked up what they were and, while I would prefer they not be in the house, do not harm them. I use a funnel trap. In winter I put them in the basement. If it is still fall, I escort them out. Seems most die in the house rather than survive over winter?
    They do not bite. They do not get into my food. As far as I can tell, they do not excrete during the winter fast either.
    In short . . harmless and inoffensive. To the extent I can, I just let them be.
    Rural Nova Scotia . . . yes with confers all about.

    • Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience! I wonder if the ones that are “awake” in the house get too dried out to make it till spring? They probably are designed to rest in the cool rather than move around using up energy etc. Thanks again!

  12. Well they are in Nova Scotia now, I found one on the window in a bedroom. Ugly critter so I tried to squish it as I normally do to insects who try to invade our home. Should I ever see another one I’ll be a lot more careful in handling it, maybe get it drunk or something else first before disposing of it. Oh! yeah, lots of spruce and pine around here. Thanks for the information

    • I think most people would agree that if an insect is invading your home it’s ok to dispose of it! Thanks for sharing your sighting–maybe they should start calling these “Everywhere Conifer Seed Bugs.”

    • I hope it was on the outside of your window–although they don’t damage buildings. Thanks for sharing your “super early spring” sighting!

  13. I have found a few inside my home this winter they seem to come out when we have a mild day. I live in South Western Nova Scotia.

  14. I found what I am pretty sure is one of these western conifer seed bugs basking in the sun on the rear window of my car yesterday afternoon. I am in Hamilton, Ontario. I went back in work to get one of the guys to come out, which he did with gloves on, and put his finger towards it to pick it up, and it flew off….so if these fly, I am pretty sure that this is the type of insect I saw.

  15. Spotted one of these guys in Whitby Ontario, hanging out on the porch enjoying the sun. It stayed long enough for me to snap a few pictures before continuing on its way.

  16. I live in Muskoka, Ontario ( Gravenhurst). I had one crawling on me two days ago and it surfaced again today ” in my home ” this time it met it’s Waterloo. Thank’s for helping me to identify this critter. Have a good day.

  17. Was laying on my couch after work this evening petting my cat and looked to my left to see one of these bastards INCHES from my arm! It was slowly crawling on the pillow beside me and didn’t flinch when I got up grabbed a tissue and crushed em. It’s guts were a blueish green and it smelled like sour apple.

    I live in a high rise apt building (11th floor) in Toronto, on. Trying to figure out how it got in here, or if maybe he clung to my clothing/ boots and i brought him home!

    Either way, now after identifying what it is I’m not too concerned.

    • They fly, so they can get up to a balcony to come in, as well as hitching a ride on clothing or a backpack. Sorry to hear it’s squished but they are not something I’d want inside either.

  18. Je viens de découvrir ce que c’est fort heureuse qu’il ne morde pas mais il en avait 2 à l’intérieur de ma maison et nous les avons écrasés je vis au Québec à Sherbrooke merci d’avoir partager cette information

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