Wildlife in the Garden (1) - Lena Ward

I have a wildlife friendly garden and enjoy a stroll almost everyday to see what interesting species can be found there.

Yesterday was not the sort of weather to see anything particular, so I was surprised to notice a very large bug (Heteroptera) about 20mm long on the step next to the French windows. On closer inspection I could see that this was a dead specimen, slightly mouldy, and belonging to the family Coreidae (Leaf-footed or Squash bugs). The expansions on the hind tibia (lower part of leg) did not look familiar as a UK species, and I identified this bug as the Western Conifer Seed Bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis Heidemann) (confirmed by an expert at www.britishbugs.org.uk). An undamaged specimen shows characteristic zigzag white markings on the wings.

Western Conifer Seed Bug

This bug prefers to feed on conifers (particularly the pine family) where the nymphs damage the seeds in cones. I have plenty of pines at the back of my garden on the heath, and probably my specimen was looking for somewhere to hibernate overwinter.

Leptoglossus was originally restricted to western North America but introduced to Italy in 1999 and progressively found elsewhere in Europe. The first record for Britain was at Weymouth in 2007, but since then there have been more than 100 sightings mostly from the south coast with a few inland over much of England. Records are being collected by Forest Research and others to follow the spread of this invasive species.

Lena K Ward

19th February 2012