During the meeting on 13th October at Hinchingbrooke Country Park a Western Conifer Seed Bug was identified by Gordon Wyatt. The bug is a Nearctic leaf-footed pine bug which has recently arrived in the UK. It is a native of North America where it is a relatively serious pest in conifer seed nurseries particularly affecting Douglas fir.
It was first detected in Britain in 2007 found in Weymouth College, Dorset. Since then it has quickly spread around the south of England and up into the midlands, south Wales and west Yorkshire.
It was accidentally introduced to northern Italy in 1999 and has spread rapidly being recorded in Switzerland (2002); Spain and Slovenia (2003); Croatia and Hungary (2004); Austria (2005); Germany, France, Serbia and the Czech Republic (2006).
They feed on the flowers, cones and seeds of conifers including Scots pine and other pine trees, Douglas fir, spruce and cedar. The female can lay up to 80 eggs in May/June. The nymphs feed on the tender shoots and go through five stages of development before becoming an adult in late August.
The bug does not bite or sting and does not carry any known diseases. One is not required to notify the Forestry Commission or Fera of sightings.
The bug can be recognised as it resembles a shield bug, it is reddish brown and has transverse white zigzag lines across the middle of its wing cases. Its hind legs are expanded hence its name of leaf-footed bug.