Jeff Green | Jan 11, 2007
Feature Article - November 30, 2006
Back toHomeJanuay 11, 2007
Nature reflections - Uninvited Guestby Jean Griffin -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
While visiting my daughter near Bourget, east of Ottawa, over the holidays she pointed out a strange beetle in her home. As she lives in a log house she was concerned if it was somehow doing damage to the wood. Unable to recognize it, I brought it home and started checking reference books.
It was obviously a bug, less than 2 cm. in length with long antennae. Brownish in colour with some indistinct markings. The first clue to its identity was its hind legs, each of which had a flattened, leaf-like expanded area on one of the segments - aha! A leaf-footed bug! Then it was to the internet and a check of pictures of leaf-footed bugs. Again - success! This unwelcome creature was a Western Conifer Seed Bug - Leptoglossus occidentalis.
What was it doing here in eastern Ontario and in a log house? First described in 1910 in California, it has since spread (or at least been found) across the United States and some time in the late 1980's in southwestern Ontario. Obviously it is now in our area.
Further research tells me that it does not damage houses - with the cooler weather it has come inside looking for shelter. Pick it up and it does not bite or sting, but if you make the mistake of squashing it, it leaves a foul, pungent odour.
These unattractive visitors use piercing, sucking mouthparts to feed on the seeds and flowers of some conifers including Douglas Fir, spruce and some pines. It is considered a pest in nursery seed growing areas because it feeds on the seed endosperm, but is otherwise considered harmless - just a nuisance.
Observations: The weather must be part of the reason for at least some of the observations I have received. On Dec. 27, Louise Scott saw four eagles over SkootamattaLake - two of which were adult Bald Eagles, the other two probably immature ones. Dec. 29 - Bill Kennett, Maberly, had an American Robin near his house (and I had one Jan. 7). On Jan. 5 Ron Hipfner saw a Belted Kingfisher about 5 km. north of Sydenham on Bedford Road. A small Black Bear was struck by a car south of Balderson on Dec. 21 - it should be in hibernation! Another animal visitor was a Moose that appeared near Doug Hawley’s home in Mountain Grove on Jan. 2. Doug also reports American Goldfinches as does Helm in Oconto. Has anyone had Evening Grosbeaks?
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