The occasional insect house pest that is frequently referred to as the “western conifer seed bug” (Leptoglossus occidentalis) belongs to the family Coreidae in the order Hemiptera. Experts estimate that somewhere between 50,000 and 80,000 insect species worldwide are Hemiptera species, or “true bugs,” as they are more commonly known. The term “bug” is widely used to refer to any species of insect or arachnid, but entomologists and pest control professionals are quick to point out that this term applies only to true bug species in the order Hemiptera.
The common name for Cimex lectularius is the “bed bug,” which is right and proper since bed bugs belong to the order Hemiptera. Other examples of properly named Hemiptera insect pest species include wheel bugs, bat bugs, kissing bugs, assassin bugs, stink bugs, and boxelder bugs. However, a relatively small number of non-true bug species have a common name that includes the word “bug,” such as ladybugs and may bugs, both of which are beetle species.
Multiple true bug species are very well known in the northeast where they are common nuisance pests of homes and buildings. These true bug pests include brown marmorated stink bugs, leaf-footed bugs, red-shouldered bugs, and squash bugs. Most true bug species secrete malodorous and/or caustic defensive fluids when they become disturbed or are crushed. Many homeowners in New York state have learned from experience that heavy true bug infestations can leave homes smelling foul for weeks after the pests are eliminated.
A few true bug house pests are known for using their needle-like mouthpart (proboscis) to pierce human skin when they become disturbed or are mishandled. With the exception of the common bed bug, kissing bugs, and other bloodsucking true bugs, “biting” true bug pest species include the wheel bug, the common damsel bug, the masked hunter, and the painted bug,
Surprisingly, the common western conifer seed bug pest that has been terrorizing New York homeowners in recent years may also be an occasional biting pest. This was revealed in a recently published study documenting the first ever recorded case of a medically significant western conifer seed bug bite that resulted in severe local irritation and a lasting lesion. The study’s authors believe that western conifer seed bug bites may occur frequently, but are commonly mistaken for bites inflicted by other insect pests.
Have you ever sustained a bite from a true bug pest?