Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In his natural habitat

It's that time of the year again; the Western conifer seed bugs are moving indoors for the rest of the year, as they always (attempt to) do. I found one on the window a couple of mornings ago, captured him* and brought him in, safely contained in a pill bottle.

I've photographed them before, in plastic containers, on white paper, in a glass container. I thought this time, I'd try for a natural background, and brought in a fallen maple leaf as a backdrop. It's what's around, this season; it should have been a familiar resting spot.

But no. He up and left  the minute he was freed.

Western conifer seed bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis.

The photo I managed to take while he opened his wings and flew away caught the upper part of his abdomen  It shows an interesting pattern of black chess pieces on yellow, and two red tail lights, which I had never seen before.

I couldn't see where he'd gone, but didn't worry. He's harmless, at least until spring, when his nymphs will start work on my evergreens. For now, all he wants is a warm place to sleep.

Later, while I sat reading, I saw him on the baseboard behind a lamp. A good spot; clean background, bright light. And for him, that was, really, a natural habitat, at least in the winter. So I crawled up to him and took photos.

Kneeling on the  baseboard, leaning on the wall. He stayed in variations of that posture while he looked me over.

He's very much aware of me, but not bothered at all by my proximity. Even when I touched his antenna with the tip of a finger, he didn't mind.

These are very social insects. When I've kept them in containers, they went into a sulk until I added a companion; then they woke up and started grooming and waving antennae at each other. And the more, the merrier. Even when that "more" includes a big human with a camera. This time, as I took photos, the bug suddenly disappeared. I found him right on the camera lens, checking it out.

I brushed him off, back onto the baseboard. He was fine with that, too.

"Maybe I'll just mosey along down this road, and find a nice spot to sleep."

I was about an inch away from his face. He stretched up one antenna to me, as if to say goodnight, then walked slowly off behind a cabinet.

* Or her. I still can't find any information on differences between the sexes. Maybe they're identical, to our eyes. The bugs seem to know which is which.


  1. =) That's such a sweet story. A socially amenable bug. Mild mannered. Looks completely different in that first shot--wow! And, rear taillights is SUCH a great description. =)

  2. Fascinating. The 'chess pieces' look, to me, like markers to show the direction of travel.

  3. Ah! We have bugs that look just like this. Wonder if they're the same or if there's an Eastern variety. Will Google. They are cool looking bugs but boy do they stink if you, or the dogs as is often our case, step on one!


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