A Western Conifer Seed Bug Leptoglossus occidentalis (see photo) was found on Bradwell Common on 23rd March 2019, in almost exactly the same place it was recorded four years before on 28th March 2015.
Leptoglossus occidentalis is native to the USA west of the Rocky Mountains but has spread in America and was an accidental introduction to Europe through Italy in 1999, with first English records in 2007. It feeds on Pines, and sure enough, there are trees of both Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris and Corsican Pine Pinus nigra subsp. larico nearby in Bradwell Common. As both of these tree species were widely planted in and around housing areas and in the linear parks, by Milton Keynes Development Corporation, there is a good chance of you finding them this spring.
Look out for the squarish ‘shoulders’, the long splayed out antennae, the swollen femurs on the legs, the broken white lines at the outer edges of the wings and the rectangular white ‘box’ margins on the inner edges of its folded wings. It is one of the ‘true bugs’, the Hemiptera which means ‘half-winged’ and is in the family Coreidae. Hemiptera are plant-feeders that have sucking mouthparts tucked beneath them. Leptoglossus occidentalis sucks juices from pine-cones. Apparently this species make a buzzing sound when flying and can emit a smelly spray as a defence.
Text and photos by Mike LeRoy