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I recorded a video of this bug:
I counted 8 legs, the front legs are a little curved. The drawing on the flat back is dark and looks like the image of Jesus with some light from behind, hahahaha. I found it on the curtain of my bedroom. I believe it belongs to some tree where it can use its camouflage. Can anyone identify it?
Location: Valencia, Spain.
I think it looks a lot like a European Pigeon Tick (Argas reflexus).
They infest pigeons and they die when infesting humans, which they only do if they are very hungry (yours looks hungry though). May also transmit diseases.
It could also be an Blyborough Tick (Argas vespertilionis). They infest bats and are a little rounder in shape but look otherwise similar.
My best guess is a soft-bodied tick, perhaps of the Ornithodoros genus, although the determination of the species is a little more difficult. Though, if it's O. erraticus they're known for causing african swine fever in Spain and Portugal (1).
In response to the comments, here's a link from Texas A&M which notes the ticks pump waste+water back out into the host, and this is why they transmit so many infections.
The two species of bed bugs (Insecta: Hemiptera: Cimicidae) usually implicated in human infestations are Cimex lectularius and C. hemipterus. Although rare, humans may become incidental hosts of Cimex species of bats and birds.
Adults and all nymphal stages of Cimex spp. need to take blood meals from warm-blooded hosts, which are typically humans for C. lectularius and C. hemipterus, although other mammals and birds can be utilized in the absence of a human host. Female bed bugs lay about five eggs daily throughout their adult lives in a sheltered location (mattress seams, crevices in box springs, spaces under baseboards, etc). Eggs hatch in about 4-12 days into first instar nymphs which must take a blood meal before molting to the next stage. The bugs will undergo five nymphal stages ( , , , , ), each one requiring a blood meal before molting to the next stage, with the fifth stage molting into an adult . Nymphs, although lacking wing buds, resemble smaller versions of the adults. Nymphs and adults take about 5-10 minutes to obtain a full blood meal. The adults may take several blood meals over several weeks, assuming a warm-blooded host is available. Mating occurs off the host and involves a unique form of copulation called &lsquotraumatic insemination&rsquo whereby the male penetrates the female&rsquos abdominal wall with his external genitalia and inseminates into her body cavity. Adults live 6-12 months and may survive for long periods of time without feeding.
Boxelder bugs are black with reddish or orange markings on their back. Adult boxelder bugs have a body shape that is a somewhat-flattened and elongated oval and is about half an inch long. They have six legs and two antennae that are typically half of their body length. Nymphs look similar to adults but lack wings and are bright red in color.
Boxelder bugs generally become a problem when they invade homes, sheds and garages in the fall and when they emerge in the spring. Like many overwintering pests, homeowners may see evidence of these bugs as the winter ends and they leave their overwintering site to go back outdoors.
Boxelder Bug Photos
Photo of boxelder bugs on a brick wall
Photo of boxelder bugs on a deck
A wide variety of insects in the order Hemiptera are known pests of almonds in the U.S., such as (left to right) the native green stink bug (Chinavia hilaris) and the invasive brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys). A new guide in the open-access Journal of Integrated Pest Management details the biology, ecology, and management options for “true bugs” in almond orchards. (Green stink bug photo by Daren Mueller, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org brown marmorated stink bug photo by Susan Ellis, Bugwood.org)
By Jody Green, Ph.D.
The United States is the largest producer of almonds in the world, supplying over 80 percent of the global production. There are over 1.5 million acres in California dedicated to growing almonds, located primarily in the Central Valley region, which dominates the interior of the state of California. The Central Valley accounts for 11 percent of California’s total land area and is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. The valley is flat and has ideal growing conditions for crops such as almonds with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers.
Jhalendra Rijal, Ph.D., an area IPM advisor with the University of California (UC) Cooperative Extension, has studied insect pests of almonds for six years. Due to the exclusive geographic region of almond crops, Rijal has the opportunity to study unique agricultural systems and the pests associated with them. Navel orangeworm (Amyelois transitella) is recognized as the most economically important insect pest of all major nut crops in California (which include almonds pistachios, and walnuts), but until now, little has been published about the 60 other species of insect pests that infest almond orchards.
Hemipteran pests are often overlooked, but their feeding as adults damages fruits, leaves, and kernels, causing direct or indirect crop problems such as gummosis, nut drop, or fruit abortion. Hemipterans are known for their piercing-sucking mouthparts used for drinking liquids from either plant or animal host. In the case of hemipteran pests of almonds, these “true bugs” insert their stylets into the host plant and inject toxic saliva that spreads into surrounding tissue.
In a profile published last week in the open-access Journal of Integrated Pest Management, Rijal and fellow UC researchers Andrea Joyce, Ph.D., and Sudan Gyawaly, Ph.D., describe the biology, life history, and management practices for 11 hemipteran pests of almonds in five families (Coreidae, Miridae, Pentatomidae, Rhopalidae, and Tingidae). Leaffooted bugs and brown marmorated stink bugs (Halyomorpha halys) can cause significant yield loss and economic damage, while others like various North American stink bug species are considered sporadic pests, and a variety of plant bugs are considered minor pests or have the potential to become pests of almonds in the future.
Integrated pest management (IPM) of hemipteran pests has included cultural management of vegetation within the orchard and overwintering shelters or alternative hosts outside of the orchard to reduce pest populations in orchards, and insecticide applications are employed to protect against significant pest pressure. At this time, no economic thresholds exist for the pests featured in this paper, the authors note, so there is much more research to be done.
Another challenge is the lack of traps available for monitoring. Aside from the fruit-feeding invasive brown marmorated stink bug, no other pest mentioned in this paper has a reliable trap used for monitoring. It is time consuming and labor intensive to conduct visual sampling of the orchard edges, beat tray sampling for insects, and inspecting fruits for damage.
Rijal knows there is both beauty and bugs to behold in the almond orchard. “In mid-February, the orchards are beautiful the flowers are like popcorn covering the valley as far as the eye can see,” he says. “It’s a very scenic experience. In spring and summer, the trees are full of nice and green almond fruits, which resemble small peach fruits. Harvest time depends on the area and almond variety, but usually some are ready in August and September.”
As Rijal continues to make an impact as a cooperative extension IPM advisor, he considers his contribution the “tiniest sliver of the giant industry pie.” On behalf of regular consumers of almonds and almond products, we thank you!
EXPLAINER: What are cicadas and why do they bug some people?
Translucent wing of an adult cicada just after shedding its nymphal skin early Wednesday, May 5, 2021, on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Md. The cicadas of Brood X, trillions of red-eyed bugs singing loud sci-fi sounding songs, can seem downright creepy. Especially since they come out from underground only ever 17 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Cicadas, red-eyed bugs singing loud sci-fi sounding songs, can seem downright creepy. Especially since the trillions of them coming this year emerge from underground only every 17 years.
But they're not monsters or a plague of locusts. Once you get to know them, scientists say you can appreciate the wonder of these unusual creatures. So here are some answers to cicada question that may be bugging you.
They are a family of insects called magicicadas. They belong to a group of bugs that are different from other insects in that both the nymphs and adults have a beak they use to drink plant fluids. Adults have two sets of wings.
There are more than 190 known varieties of cicadas in North America and 3,390 of them around the world.
Most cicada species come out every year. In the United States, there are groups of cicadas that stay underground for either 13 years or 17 years. These are called periodical broods.
Except for one species in India and one in Fiji, only the U.S. gets these periodic cicadas.
Cicadas are not locusts. They are not grasshoppers. Those are different species. But when Europeans first arrived in America, some started calling them locusts and even grasshoppers.An adult cicada begins to shed its nymphal skin, Tuesday, May 4, 2021, on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Md. The cicadas of Brood X, trillions of red-eyed bugs singing loud sci-fi sounding songs, can seem downright creepy. Especially since they come out from underground only ever 17 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Different groups of cicadas come out in different years in different places. This year's group is called Brood X, as in the Roman numeral 10. There are 15 broods that still come out regularly. Others have gone extinct.
Some come out every 13 years. Some, including Brood X, come out every 17 years.
Some entomologists theorize that it's an evolutionary defense mechanism. They stay underground so long that most predators will have no memory or history to look for them.
That's another evolutionary defense mechanism. Lots of creatures—even ants—eat cicadas. When they first come out and try to molt their skin, they can get stuck and are particularly vulnerable to attack.
They come out in large numbers so that some of them will survive. The survivors make the next brood, says University of Maryland entomologist Michael Raupp.An adult cicada sheds its nymphal skin, early Wednesday, May 5, 2021, on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Md. The cicadas of Brood X, trillions of red-eyed bugs singing loud sci-fi sounding songs, can seem downright creepy. Especially since they come out from underground only ever 17 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
WHERE WILL THEY BE THIS YEAR?
This is one of the largest broods seen by the most people.
Brood X can be seen in Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
WHEN WILL THE NEXT BROODS COME OUT?
Nothing emerges in 2022 or 2023, but two different broods will come out in 2024.
Brood XIII, a 17-year cicada, will come out in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Brood XIX, which emerges every 13 years, will come out in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee.
No. They don't harm people. They don't harm pets. Don't kill them, scientists say.A dirt covered cicada nymph is seen Sunday, May 2, 2021, in Frederick, Md. The cicadas of Brood X, trillions of red-eyed bugs singing loud sci-fi sounding songs, can seem downright creepy. Especially since they come out from underground only ever 17 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Dogs have been known to binge and eat too many. But that's a function of amount, not the bugs themselves.
The only things cicadas can harm are young trees if they climb up them and try to plant eggs on weak young limbs. Experts say netting young trees protects them. Do not use pesticides.
When cicadas die, they fertilize the trees and may smell a bit. Trees tend to bloom more the year after a cicada emergence, says cicada expert Gene Kritsky.
Some people are scared of the way they look or are upset by their smell. A lot of people are frightened of bugs. And when they come out in mass numbers, they can be hard to avoid. Raupp suggests staying indoors or heading to the beach, which they don't like.
There's also the inconvenience factor. They can seem to ruin weddings and large events just because there's so many of them.An adult cicada hangs upside down just after shedding its nymphal skin, early Wednesday, May 5, 2021, on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Md. The cicadas of Brood X, trillions of red-eyed bugs singing loud sci-fi sounding songs, can seem downright creepy. Especially since they come out from underground only ever 17 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
WHY DO CICADAS SING LOUDLY?
Cicadas sing by flexing small drum-like organs in their abdomens, and what you hear in the trees is called a chorus. It's nothing but males trying to attract females by singing to them. Think of them as the insect version of a boy band. Each species has their own song. When the females are interested, they twitch their wings.
It is so loud because they sometime want to woo a female far away. Get thousands of them together and they can reach 105 decibels, which is louder than a lawnmower.
Female cicadas make slits in small tree branches and usually lay 20 to 30 eggs in each slit. A female can lay 400 to 600 eggs in a lifetime. The eggs hatch in late July to early August. Then the cicadas fall to the ground and immediately burrow underground.An adult cicada is seen, in Washington, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Trillions of cicadas are about to emerge from 15 states in the U.S. East. The cicadas of Brood X, trillions of red-eyed bugs singing loud sci-fi sounding songs, can seem downright creepy. Especially since they come out from underground only ever 17 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
They cannot lay eggs in your skin, entomologist John Cooley says.
WHAT DO THEY DO UNDERGROUND?
Periodic cicadas spend most of their 13 or 17 years underground, where they feed off plant roots and their bodies grow and change.
Any day now. Early ones are already out. In Tennessee and other southern states they've started coming out in large numbers. They don't come out in mass until the soil temperature about 8 inches (20 centimeters) deep is 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 Celsius).
Once the males mate, they die. After females lay their eggs, they die.
So except for the eggs, they'll be gone by around July 4, Cooley says. Annual cicadas can last until October.
When a lot of them die in the same place, it can "smell like roadkill," Cooley says. "Get a shovel or a rake and move them somewhere far away," he suggests.
- An adult cicada is seen, in Washington, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Trillions of cicadas are about to emerge from 15 states in the U.S. East. The cicadas of Brood X, trillions of red-eyed bugs singing loud sci-fi sounding songs, can seem downright creepy. Especially since they come out from underground only ever 17 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
- A cicada turret is seen at he base of an oak tree Tuesday, May 4, 2021, on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Md. Cicada nymphs create turrets above the tunnel hole where they eventually emerge. Trillions of cicadas are about to emerge from 15 states in the U.S. East. Scientists say Brood X (as in ten, not the letter) is one of the biggest for these bugs which come out only once every 17 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
- A dirt-covered cicada nymph crawls up, Sunday, May 2, 2021, in Frederick, Md. The cicadas of Brood X, trillions of red-eyed bugs singing loud sci-fi sounding songs, can seem downright creepy. Especially since they come out from underground only ever 17 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
- A cicada nymph crawls Sunday, May 2, 2021, in Frederick, Md. The cicadas of Brood X, trillions of red-eyed bugs singing loud sci-fi sounding songs, can seem downright creepy. Especially since they come out from underground only ever 17 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
- An adult cicada hangs upside down on a tulip tree leaf in Washington, Thursday, May 6, 2021. The cicadas of Brood X, trillions of red-eyed bugs singing loud sci-fi sounding songs, can seem downright creepy. Especially since they come out from underground only ever 17 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
- The abdomen of a cicada nymph stick out of mulch and soil, Sunday, May 2, 2021, in Frederick, Md. Trillions of cicadas are about to emerge from 15 states in the U.S. East. The cicadas of Brood X, trillions of red-eyed bugs singing loud sci-fi sounding songs, can seem downright creepy. Especially since they come out from underground only ever 17 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
- An adult cicada is seen, in Washington, Thursday, May 6, 2021. The cicadas of Brood X, trillions of red-eyed bugs singing loud sci-fi sounding songs, can seem downright creepy. Especially since they come out from underground only ever 17 years. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
You bet. There's even a University of Maryland cookbook. You can start with cicada dumplings appetizers, move to "El Chirper Tacos" and finish off with "Chocolate-Chip Trillers," which are cicada cookies, Raupp's favorite.
"They have a buttery texture, a delicious, nutty flavor, probably from the tannins, from the roots of the trees on which they fed," Raupp says. "And they're going to be really good with a Merlot."
ARE THEY BEING TRACKED? Bug experts watch them whenever they come out, but now you can too.
Kritsky has a Cicada Safari app where people can track and report cicada sightings.
HAVE CICADAS MADE HISTORY?
Brood X got so loud that in 1902 at Arlington National Cemetery that they almost drowned out President Theodore Roosevelt, who was known for his booming speaking voice, Kritsky says.
In 1970, Bob Dylan was getting a honorary degree at Princeton during a Brood X emergence. It spurred him to write the song "Day of the Locusts."
© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
Bed bugs can also be identified by their fecal speckling.
Bed bug fecal matter can appear similar to that of the German cockroach.
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Sam on a Saturday
But Why Study a Fly?
One of the first things worth mentioning is that those studying Drosophila are generally not entomologists(scientists who study insects). Fly researchers are not usually attempting to learn about fruit flies for the sake of knowledge about fruit flies. Not that fully understanding and characterizing the organisms around us isn’t useful, important, or interesting, it just isn’t what fly researchers are setting out to accomplish. Rather, we are attempting to leverage the vast amount of information and previous studies on fruit flies in order to uncover more general information about broad biological topics like embryology, genetics, and disease.
This means fruit flies are model organisms, or research organisms, like yeast, zebra fish, and mice, which are ideal to study because scientists can readily manipulate near every aspect of their existence(National Institute of General Medical Sciences, 2018). Humans, on the other hand, cannot be kept in test tubes, given diseases, poked and prodded, or dissected, which necessitates the use of these organisms. Even in cases when scientists can study humans, we turn out to be extremely unwieldy and unreliable test subjects. For example, if I want to know if quinoa eaters live a long time, I can get a random group of people and give them questionnaires about their diets and then follow up with them and their family members to determine how long their lifespans were. Nothing unethical or questionable there so long as they are all consenting to being in my study. But even without ethical problems other issues quickly crop up. What if they’re lying? What if the same urge that makes someone eat quinoa also makes them less likely to smoke or eat fast food? What if they all outlive me, who will finish my paper? What if, like a bad date, they don’t return my follow-up calls? Before long there is a pile of possible objections and caveats that might cause me to seriously reconsider my experiment.
Even with a different design, one in which I randomly select some of my subjects to feed quinoa, there is a chance that the mere knowledge that they are eating quinoa would cause them to feel healthier and make healthier decisions. Or what if several subjects went home and threw up the quinoa to spite me for forcing them to eat it? While human trials are certainly necessary, it is clear that there is a need for model organisms.
While the ‘ultimate’ goal of science might be hard to pin down (more on this later), there are many obvious, ‘proximate’, goals that are clearer to see, such as the understanding, prevention, and treatment of human disease. In this regard, Drosophila is an excellent organism to study as 77% of human disease-associated genes have a fly equivalent (Reiter et al., 2001). However, if genetic similarity is our sole goal, it would be hard to make an argument for flies when mice, themselves such popular model organisms that ‘lab rat’ is in our popular vernacular, share an even larger number of genes with us (National Institutes of Health, 2010). The answer to this apparent discrepancy is more economical than biological. In defending Professor Hugo Bellen’s assertion that, “You get 10 times more biology for a dollar invested in flies than you get in mice,” Professor Andreas Prokop of the University of Manchester calculated that a similar number of strains of mice takes up vastly more money, time, and space, as compared to flies(2018). Because time, space, and cash are always concerns in a laboratory setting, any switch that can save big on all 3, without too large a tradeoff, definitely deserves attention.
But Why Study this Fly?
As I mentioned, Drosophila is wonderful because of its size, cost, and ease of use, but surely so are ants… gnats… house flies…. maybe even ladybugs? Why the fruit fly and not these alternatives? Why don’t we see some labs using one insect and some labs another?
The answer begins with a man who is, undoubtedly, the most famous fruit fly researcher to ever live: Thomas Hunt Morgan. According to a biographical article on Morgan by Nobel Laureate Edward B. Lewis, Morgan obtained a PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 1890, and took a post as a professor of experimental zoology at Columbia University in 1910 (1998). It was there that he established what became popularly known as the “fly room”. Lewis notes that Morgan was interested in, but skeptical of, the work that was being done at the time in Mendelian genetics, and landed on the fruit fly because they were inexpensive, very fertile, and short-lived, among other things.
To be clear: the fruit fly wasn’t chosen here because of distinctive peculiar characteristics or popular intrigue it was chosen for the same reason a hammer gets picked up when a nail needs to be put in a board. While having a lab full of polar bears could, at least in theory, yield similar genetic and developmental breakthroughs, it would be about as efficient as hammering with a screwdriver (and would be a considerable workplace hazard for biologists).
But why then is Drosophila still used? Because it always has been used. It isn’t that scientists are reluctant to change or set in their ways (not all of them at least), it is moreso the result of the enormous benefit of doing research on an organism that is so well studied. Countless hours have been spent by researchers unraveling the genetic intricacies of the fruit fly and as a result there is an incredible breadth of widely available information and fly strains for researchers to use. I’ve heard this referred to as a ‘genetic toolkit’ of Drosophila, and it is greater than any other species. The fruit fly has enormous inertia based on how much work has already been done in understanding its biology, so why would scientists reinvent the wheel with other species?
What Have We Learned?
If, like I say, Drosophila is a great model organism, what then has it taught us? To answer it is useful to look back to Morgan, working in the early 1900’s. In thinking about his work it is important to keep in mind that DNA wasn’t accepted as the genetic/hereditary material until the 1940’s/50’s, and furthermore the structure of DNA wasn’t uncovered until 1953 (Pray, 2008). This lack of knowledge didn’t stop Morgan, however, from studying genes and genetics.
According to author Kevin Gleason in his article for the ASU embryo project encyclopedia, Morgan began his fruit fly research by breeding thousands of fruit flies together hoping to uncover a mutant(2017). Eventually(emphasis on eventually), a fruit fly with white eyes was born, and Morgan began breeding this fly with red eyed females, and the offspring of that pairing back with the original white eyed mutant(incest isn’t too taboo in fly labs). While doing this, he realized the white eye mutation was appearing predominantly in males, and at a higher ratio than would be expected given the existing knowledge at the time. This discovery led Morgan to the conclusion that eye color was on the chromosome that determined sex, and eventually he, and other members of the “fly room”, were able to establish that genes, located on chromosomes, allow parents to pass on traits to their offspring.
Thomas Hunt Morgan 1891 Johns Hopkins Yearbook The University Press of Kentucky via Wikimedia Commons Public Domain
For his pioneering work on Drosophila heredity, Morgan received a Nobel Prize in 1933(Allen, 2018). To reiterate an earlier point for emphasis: Morgan made ground-breaking Nobel Prize-winning discoveries in genetics before anyone knew what genes were. Like other incredible scientists, Morgan seemed to possess that enviable mixture of boldness, perseverance, creativity, and open-mindedness that propelled him into uncharted territories.
While Morgan may have made the fruit fly famous in genetics, now it is near impossible to look at any branch of biology or medicine without encountering the pests. In fact, one only needs to look back 2 years to find the most recent Nobel Prize for work on Drosophila. According to the Nobel Assembly press release, in 2017 Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young jointly won the award for their work on Drosophila(2017). The trio uncovered the molecular and genetic machinery underlying the circadian rhythm of Drosophila. Unsurprisingly, the gears operating the human biological clock are very similar. Since the discoveries of Hall, Rosbash, and Young, circadian biology is now a burgeoning field with very real applications in human health. In this way we can see the 2017 Nobel Prize rewarding the same thing as the 1933 prize: the use of Drosophila as a conceptual icebreaker, opening up new avenues of biological thought and paving the way for future discoveries, including (but not limited to!) novel therapies for human diseases.
As we push deeper into the 21st century, the fruit fly will undoubtedly play a role in biological research, though it remains to be seen how big that role will be. As David Bilder and Kenneth D. Irvine note in their 2017 article regarding Drosophila research, there is some concern within the fly research community about waning funds(2017). This anxiety may have its basis in a recent funding trend emphasizing the application of existing research to medical solutions instead of an expansion of existing knowledge itself (referred to as ‘translational’ and ‘fundamental’ or ‘basic’ research, respectively)(Fang et al., 2010).
The bias is understandable: research is largely funded through government grants and those funding bodies aren’t wrong to want to see direct tangible results, such new medicine, to hold up to taxpayers. The more abstracted the research is from the common good, the less likely it is to be publicly lauded and the more likely it is to be scrutinized or deemed unnecessary (Sarah Palin famously, or perhaps infamously, mocked fruit fly research on the 2008 campaign trail).
However, it is vital to recognize that basic research is the wellspring of translational research, and without the former the latter will suffer. The Drosophila system continues to be among the most robust and economical methods of conducting basic research, and it is imperative that Drosophila researchers continue to self-advocate and educate those around them on the virtues of their model organism.
On another note, it is interesting that Drosophila is largely funded because of the role that basic research plays in translational research and therefore in eventual clinical applications. It raises many questions: is the purpose of science to maximize the health and lifespan of the general population? or is that merely how science obtains its funding? if not, or if that is merely the ‘proximal’ and not the ‘ultimate’ goal, what then is the ‘point’ of science? I hope to dive into these next time I have time to write!
1. “Using Research Organisms to Study Health and Disease.” National Institute of General Medical Sciences, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Nov. 2018, www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Pages/modelorg_factsheet.aspx.
2. Reiter, L T et al. “A Systematic Analysis of Human Disease-Associated Gene Sequences in Drosophila Melanogaster.” Genome research vol. 11,6, 2001, pp. 1114-25. doi:10.1101/gr.169101
Western conifer seed bug or brown marmorated stink bug?
Know your winter wanderers, because you could be mistaking the western conifer seed bug for an assassin bug, or worse, a brown marmorated stink bug.
Western conifer seed bug. Photo credit: Kurt Andreas
On sunny, winter days, it is not unusual to find a slow-moving insect or two indoors, on the windowsill or wall. Concern over who the visitor is has increased since last year when the brown marmorated stink bug entered our lives.
Before, the unwanted guest could be annoying, unwanted or repulsive. Now, people are in fear that the insect invader could also be very bad smelling. However, insect identification is a specific science and people often misidentify their home invader and become very distressed.
The happy news in all of this is that the suspected brown marmorated stink bug is probably a western conifer seed bug. The two insects vaguely resemble each other, but the innocuous western conifer seed bug gets the blame. It also gets blamed for being several different insects because of its body shape and coloration.
The western conifer seed bug is native of the United States. For a number of years, it was found in western states like California, Nevada and Oregon. Then, it began its slow migration across the country. It made its way to Michigan in the late 1980s and now is found as far east as Maine and New Brunswick, Canada. They recently have been found in Europe.
Being a true bug, it feeds with its piercing-sucking mouthparts on the gooey goodness inside of conifer seeds. The trees still produce cones, but there may be no viable seeds. For homeowners with trees in the landscape, this makes very little difference. Tree favorites are Douglas-fir, Scotch pine, white spruce, white and red pines.
The western conifer seed bug has a body length of 3/4 of an inch with a brownish top. There are checkers of black and white along the margins of the lower portion of the back. But the fastest way to identify the western conifer seed bug is to look at the lower hind leg. It is widened on each side of the leg and looks like a tiny leaf has been attached. Stink bugs and other look-alikes will just have a straight, cylindrical leg.
Adult brown marmorated stink bug with antennal and back markings circled. Photo credit: Rutgers University
Western conifer seed bugs spend the winter as adults and often find their way indoors where their loud buzzing sound when flying attracts attention. When crunched flat, they have a distinctive, musky, evergreen-turpentine odor. They have been called many things, but rarely by the correct name. They are often confused with squash bugs and assassin bugs, as well as the brown marmorated stink bug.
Squash bugs are a pest in many gardens where they destroy the leaves on zucchini, pumpkins and other members of the cucurbit family. Squash bug adults do not spend the winter as adults &ndash and no one will ever find them squeezing through a crack to come indoors any time of the year.
Several years ago, the papers carried articles about an assassin bug called the kissing bug. In the southeast part of the United States, this bug was blamed for transmitting African sleeping sickness. This insect also resembles the western conifer seed bug. There are assassin bugs in Michigan, but they do not carry any diseases.
To add insult to injury, the poor western conifer seed bug was tagged with the wrong name when it first appeared in Michigan. Entomologists first misidentified them as the leaf-footed pine seed bug. So it&rsquos been a long road to the recognition they so richly deserve. If there are evergreens with cones in the area, your mystery house guest may be the western conifer seed bug. So check that hind leg and relax.
What is this bug? - Biology
What is a Pest?
We know that certain insects can feed on the blood of people or other vertebrate animals, and can transmit diseases that are very serious health concerns. These are pests. Nearly every kind of plant in nature is food to one insect or another. When insects feed on plants that we as humans dont want them to, they become pests. Agricultural crops and horticultural plants are consumed by a number of different insects and are at risk from the time the seed is planted until the crop is harvested, stored, or consumed. When insects compete for the same foods as humans, we consider them pests. If insects sting, bite, annoy, contaminate, or make life less pleasurable in any way, people consider them pests. Insect pests may damage homes, clothing, or other products that we make, store, or use. Insects that harm us or our animals, destroy our foods, or damage our buildings, structures, or the materials we producein short, compete with humans in any wayare called pests.