Elm Seed Bugs
Learn about Utah Elm Seed Bugs
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Elm seed bugs are recent invaders to the state of Utah. The Elm Seed Bug is related to the stink bug and shares many characteristics. They are about 1/3 inch long, brown, red, and black in color with a velvety appearance. Elm Seed Bugs have alternating red and black patterns outside their wings. Behind the head, they have a triangle segment. The wings are folded flat over the back and have a distinctive yellow margin on the rear edge. Both nymphs and adults have piercing-sucking mouthparts used for feeding on plant juices.
Elm Seed Bug Habitat
Utah appears to offer the perfect environment for Elm Seed Bugs to thrive. Elm Seed Bugs are found in tree-lined areas such as parks and other settings with elm trees. They often congregate in warm areas, sometimes on structures like houses. Elm Seed Bugs overwinter in protected places, including under floorboards, attics, or wall voids. They move outdoors in the spring or early summer.
Elm Seed Bug adults feed primarily on the seeds from elm trees. Adults also feed on Douglas fir, but not to the same extent. Elm Seed Bugs do not appear to threaten tree health or survival. Elm Seed Bug nymphs are generalist feeders that eat other insects, pollen, and small leaf tissue. Nymphs consume aphids, a common pest of elm trees, so they may benefit elms.
Elm Seed Bug Life Cycle & Reproduction
Elm seed bugs can produce up to two generations per year. One generation typically occurs in late spring to early summer and another later in the season from midsummer through fall. After mating, females seek protected places to lay their eggs. One female can lay approximately 150 eggs at a time, each of which is about the size of a pinhead. Eggs hatch between 2-3 weeks later.
Nymphs (immature elm seed bugs) look similar to adults but are smaller and lack wings. Before becoming adults, they pass through five nymphal instars (stages between molts). The complete development cycle of Elm Seed Bugs takes around 35 days under ideal conditions, although this period may be extended slightly by cooler temperatures or poor food availability.
Elm Seed Bugs do not appear to threaten tree health or survival. These insects generally do not cause much damage to plants unless populations are high. However, they can be a significant nuisance pest when they invade homes and other buildings. Elm Seed Bugs do not bite people or pets but have an unpleasant odor when crushed.