Since last week’s press release on the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and my own blog post on this invasive pest, I’ve been getting many reports of this insect from Wisconsin residents. It’s always great to get reports from the community as it helps us keep track of this invasive pest.
Interestingly, there have also been many cases of an insect that somewhat resembles BMSB: the Western Conifer Seed Bug. Both insects try sneaking into buildings to look for shelter and possess “checkerboard” patterns at the back of the body. However, when you have the insects side by side, they can be easily separated. The western conifer seed bug is longer and more slender in appearance, has dull reddish and orange patches on the body, and has distinctly dilated hind legs (think “bell-bottoms”). In addition, these insects possess a unique zig-zag (“lightning bolt”) pattern on each wing, which can easily be seen with the naked eye as illustrated in the ID guide below.
While the western conifer seed bug can sneak into buildings in the fall, they tend to invade in relatively low numbers. This species feeds on the seed cones of pines and other conifers, but doesn’t seem to cause much (if any) harm to the trees. Overall, they can be a bit of a nuisance, but that’s about it, unlike BMSB, which can potentially damage many different types of plants.
Have western conifer seed bugs around the house and want to know more about their biology and management? Check out this handy factsheet from UW-Extension.