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What Are Those Strange Insects? Western Conifer Seed Bug! October 21, 2009

Posted by bsciencecenter in Uncategorized.

The large, brown bug, found entering homes is the Western Conifer Seed Bug. This species, first described in California in 1910, has quickly moved eastward. In 1956 the WCSB was reported in Iowa and in1990 several were found in New York State.

Life Cycle:
In the fall, the Western Conifer Seed Bug enters homes through cracks and crevices searching for protection from cold temperatures. In the spring they return to the outdoors to feed on the developing seeds and flowers of coniferous trees, including: white pine, red pine, hemlock, and spruce. The female lays rows of eggs on the needles and the eggs hatch in about ten days. The nymphs, which feed on the scales of the cones and occasionally the needles, pass through five stages of development and reach adulthood by late August. It is around this time that the bugs begin their search for over-wintering sites.

Are they harmful?

To humans, NO!  They do not bite, sting or eat wood.  They are more of an annoying pest as they sound similar to a bumble bee when flying by your ear.

How do you remove them?

Call Ms. Pavlicek to remove them! Just kidding!  You can prevent the entry of these bugs in buildings by calking openings around windows, doors, and chimneys, repair damaged window screens, and screen attic and wall vents. The bugs can be easily captured and returned to the outdoors or vacumed into a bag and disposed of.  The use of pesticides is not recommended.


squash finger


1. Mr. Chiocca - October 22, 2009

Hey – thanks for the info. I have found a bunch of them, and now I know that I need to better protect the last few pumpkins in my garden!

Thanks! Mr. Chiocca, ESL Teacher, grade 6-12

2. MomofJTE - October 24, 2009

We have been seeing these insects around our house this time of year for years!! When the kids were around 2-4 yrs old we named them “funny bugs” (not knowing what they were really called) because they moved in a slow and funny manner and the kids use to crawl right behind imitating them!!!

3. Miss Varrell - October 25, 2009

I’m still going to refer to them as stinkbugs (because they really do smell when you squish ’em), but at least now I know their real name! Thanks for the entomological update! Science is life!!!

4. Martin Romano - October 25, 2009

I’m no expert, but I think those insects are actually Western Conifer Seed Bugs. They look almost the same as Squash Bugs, but have two key differences: they feed on pine and other confier seeds – which are a lot more common around here than are squashes and pumpkins – and emit a pine-like scent when threatened; I’ve noticed this myself trying to transport one out of our house. See http://nbinsects.blogspot.com/2007/10/western-conifer-seed-bugs.html for example.

bsciencecenter - October 26, 2009

You are very correct! That is one of many specific species of squash bug. There are many species of squash/stink bugs. We use the word “Squash Bug” in our post as a general/common name. Thanks for letting us know the specific species!

5. Lynn - December 27, 2009

Are these assassin bugs or squash bugs? I first saw them about two years ago but this year they have been everywhere. It is December and I have killed 4 in my house this week. They are quite large but easy to catch and do have a smell when squished but it does not last long. Could they bite my grandchildren? What is the difference between a squash and an assassin bug in looks?

bsciencecenter - January 4, 2010

I believe squash bugs are included in a category of insects called “assassin bugs” It is a general term for that type of insect. Check out this site for more info: http://www.uky.edu/Ag/CritterFiles/casefile/insects/bugs/assassin/assassin.htm

I do not know what exact species you have in your home. I have seen the Western Conifer Seed Bug mostly in Burlington. They do not bite or sting.
Check here for more info: http://www.massaudubon.org/Nature_Connection/wildlife/index.php?subject=Insects&id=62

6. James M. - March 5, 2010

Both Squash Bugs and Assassin Bugs are in the Order Hemiptera, which includes many insects in over twenty Families. Squash bug are in the Coreidae Family and Assassin bugs are in Reduviidae.

7. James M. - March 5, 2010

I forgot to mention that Assassin Bugs are predators of other insects and in many cases are beneficial to have in the garden. Beware though, I have heard they can inflict a painful bite. I have never been bitten by one, but I don’t handle them with bare hands.

8. David C. - April 11, 2010

Okay, this is going to seem weird and strange, but my question is this: can Squash Bugs bite people? I found one of these loveable (to me) insects in my room and after it crawled on my hands for a bit, it stopped moving and I felt a distinct pain right where it was sticking its proboscis, just like a mosquito! It felt like I was being bitten by a mosquito when it was actually a Squash Bug and it fed for a few minutes before it moved on again. I let it go outside afterwards. I didn’t know Squash Bugs can bite people as I’ve never heard of them doing so. Other insects that are supposedly harmless are also doing the same thing. I’ve been bitten by Ladybugs…yes, Ladybugs…and even grasshoppers. Have they developed a taste for human flesh or something? I know all this sounds strange and probably unbelievable, but I swear it’s 100% true! They don’t hurt too much, but it’s enough to feel and know they’re biting. It makes me wonder what else will start biting that’s never bitten before. What’s next, moths and butterflies biting people? If you don’t believe me…even though I swear it’s 100% true…I’ll understand. Frankly, if someone else had told me they’ve been bitten by any of these harmless insects and I haven’t, I don’t know if I would believe them. It’s kinda hard to believe that some harmless bugs are starting to bite people…Squash bugs, Ladybugs, grasshoppers and who knows what else. What do you think?

9. David C. - April 11, 2010

P.S., Squash Bugs are my favorite insects. I love them so much! So much, in fact, that I get sad whenever they die. It’s like losing a friend to me.

10. Goldenlocks - December 29, 2011

Thanks for the info. My beloved realitor cut down dome vines and left the top part to decade near one of my bedroom window. Next thing I knew, iI started seeing strange bugs. They do look cute, but I do lnot like any sort of bugs in my house. I have been killing crazily, without spray. I found this website and BAM! Pictures of the bug.

I wish that there was a way to rid myself of them without using chemicals. The last thing I want is for my house to get infested with these strange bugs or any other bugs.

11. Linda - October 24, 2012

Just looking up if Squash bug is dangerous when it bites you it stings and makes the spot all red, so can anyone tell me if it is dangerous should I seek help.

bsciencecenter - October 24, 2012

Squash bug is general term..if you live here in MA..we have Western Conifer Seed Bugs…they do not bite or sting..they are not harmful.

12. Mrs. Rummel - October 24, 2012

I do have these in my house and am totally grossed out by the close-up pictures! It was interesting to read about them, though – Thanks!

13. Patrick Larkin (@patrickmlarkin) - October 24, 2012

My daughter just screamed from her room an hour or so and asked me to come up because of “a gross bug.” Guess what it was? Thanks for the overview!

14. mrfeinsilverbhs - October 25, 2012

The bane of English Language Arts instruction in Room 205! I taught in that classroom in 2010-11 and had nothing against these harmless creatures and their evident curiosity about British and world literature. But the students were another story. You never saw such panic every time a random squash bug would drift through the open windows (which was at least weekly at this time of year). I swear the students made me feel like Beowulf for the indifference I showed my own mortality as I scooped up the intruders and sent them back through the window whence they came — while trying not to skip a beat on the lesson. Ha! Good luck with that. A squash bug visit-and-aftermath always took at least a few minutes’ bite out of a day’s lesson. At least now I know their story. Thanks, Science Center!

15. Liz - June 17, 2013

I just woke up 10 minutes ago because I felt something on my arm. Guess what it was? It was huge!

16. Toni - October 18, 2013

A giant squash but bit me a week ago and it still itches even though I’ve put hydrocortisone on it 2 or 3 times a day.

17. Mary Goodman - December 17, 2013

I was bitten by something 2 weeks ago. It had it’s yellow wings spread and was sticking it’s proboscis into my finger . Lots of pain, swelling, and redness. Even the finger next to the bitten one hurt and puffed up. After about 4 hours there was just a little red pun mark. I did take a Benadryl just in case. Didn’t get a good look at it, but have had a ton of Squash Bugs around. Wonder if this was one that hit me. Sure hurt a lot.

18. Terry - September 28, 2014

Our log home is covered with this insect…Montana. The hottest part of the day they cover the west side of our home. I killed 15 on ourfrench doors today. I hate the way they fly into you in the house . This infestation this year is one of the worst we have had. Last year not so many, but every year we get them. Please help!! Any suggestions to get rid of these conifer seed bugs. I wake up at night and they are buzzing around. Then I hear them land and I freak because I don’t know if they are going to crawl on me.

19. Cammy - November 10, 2014

I’ve been hearing a lot about Chagas bugs in the news lately, had a red mark near my lip today and then this very night one of these bugs was on my desk, next to my mouse a few feet from my bed. It looks just like a Western Conifer Seed Bug or a Leaf Footed Seed Bug, i can’t tell for sure. Do I need to be worried? How can I know for sure it’s not a Chagas bug? Afraid to turn off the lights in Seattle.

bsciencecenter - November 12, 2014

You could take the bug to an appropriate expert to have it identified or ask your physician about your concerns.

20. Vikki - September 20, 2015

We have a log home in north central WA and these guys seem to have taken up residence. I find them near the windows and hanging out up and downstairs. Finally decided they were the western conifer seed bugs but I don’t recall them flying around in here. Just showing up when they want. I get them in a Kleenex and flush or vacuum. We have had extreme weather this year with record high temps and fires so am thinking maybe they are just looking for a safe, cooler place. They don’t bother us; I am just not a bug person so get the willies when I see them, but am getting used to them, and the yellow jackets, moths and everything else nature is giving us. Will definitely start sealing crevices this week to help cut down

21. Kerri Engleman - December 10, 2015

These can bite, though very rarely…I have many of these around our house, and have killed hundreds since they enter the house frequently. Over the nearly 10 years I’ve lived here, I’ve been bitten twice. It is quite painful, though by a few minutes later, it had stopped hurting and it didn’t leave much of a mark or cause any other ill effects. Just a word of warning for anyone who handles them often or allows their children to, since the article claims the do not bite. I tell my kids to squish them with a wad of tissue so they do not get a chance to.

22. Lakeisha - February 26, 2016

Veery energgetic post, I loved that bit. Willl there be a part 2?

23. Kristen - June 8, 2016

Those bugs bite really, really hard. I don’t understand why people say they don’t bite. They do! And hard.

24. Erin nicole smeeding - June 12, 2016

These seemingly harmless insects can cause true harm in gardens. They pierce and attack blossoms of all kinds, even mint which is supposed to repel garden pests. They prevent vegetables from fruiting and lay waste to ornamental flowers. I have resorted to killing them by hand with gloves on because I don’t know what to do. They showed up three years ago , I live in Salt Lake City and have never had a problem with them before. They have not come in my house yet ( to my knowledge) but are ruining my garden 😦

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