Sunday, November 8, 2009

Home Invasion

For the last 2 weeks, my home and the nature museum have been under assult by a variety of six-legged home invaders. It initially began with a sudden influx of Asian Multicolored Lady Beetles. They were swarming all over the outer surfaces of the building's siding looking for a place to rest during their winter hibernation.

No sooner did the ladybugs dissappear and new invader showed up looking for a place to hibernate as well. The assailant (pictured above) is the Western Conifer Seed Bug. Believe it or not, there really is such a thing as a bug. True bugs are taxonomically different than other groups of insects and there are many different types. They can usually be differentiated from other types of insects by their leathery wings and they way they lay flat across their backs when folded, often creating an X shape.

Western Conifer Seed Bugs belong to a group usually referred to as leaf-footed bugs because of the wide,flattened sections of the hind legs. They are a little obnoxious when trapped in the house but are mostly harmless. If handled roughly they may emit a bit of a smelly odor but are not apt to bite.

So if your home looks like this photo above, you can relate to the home invasion. The ladybugs and seed bugs are relatively harmless as they rest on or in your home. They are only intending to hibernate. Neither species eats wood or drywall or any other type of building material. If you do notice them in your home, it is best to remove them alive rather than spraying insecticides to kill them. In fact, common insecticides are rarely effective on these species since the spray was developed to kill more common house pests like ants, flies, mosquitoes, spiders, etc.

Finding the locations where these insects are entering your home will go a long way to reducing the number of individuals coming inside. Ted Gilman, Greenwich Audubon Naturalist, referred to them as "little energy conservationists". Where they come in will be the same place your home will be leaking cold air once winter comes. Seal it up for the bugs, and seal it up to reduce your heating costs! To safely remove large numbers of lady bugs or other insect invaders, use this handy trick to convert your vacuum to safely collect and release your bugs outside.

-Adam Zorn, Naturalist

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