Invasion of the Seed Bugs

Seed Bug

Seed bug, Melacoryphus lateralis
Photo: OPSU

Much of the Southwest US has been plagued with large swarms of seed bugs. These seed bugs are Melacoryphus lateralis a bug that has periodically had large populations in Arizona, but not such large populations elsewhere until this year. This is a different bug than the Elm Seed Bug, Arocatus melanocephalus, an invasive species recently found in Southwestern Idaho. Some recent comments on the Elm Seed Bug post probably refer to Melacoryphus lateralis. Many bugs in the family Lygaeidae have black and orange/red coloration making them difficult for amateurs to differentiate. Melacoryphus lateralis is not the same as the round greenish bug that is causing issues near Black Rock, NV.

Scientists from Arizona say that this is the largest outbreak of Melacoryphus lateralis in 30 years. The intense drought in the western US has diminished food sources for the bugs. When food becomes scarce, bugs migrate if that have the capability.

Seed bug

Seed bug swarm, Melacoryphus lateralis
Photo: Matthew Hengst

Seed bugs aggregate around lights and areas that are irrigated or naturally have more moisture than the surroundings. Those who are not bug lovers are annoyed by the bugs crawling everywhere and invading houses. Control is not possible. Historically, boom populations are followed by a crash and the outbreak will cease. Those who admire insects are awed by the impressive swarms.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Invasion of the Seed Bugs

  1. Pingback: Attack of the Seed Bugs

  2. Linda says:

    We have these right now in Southern California. Thousands of them! Sickening pest!

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