Western Conifer Seed Bug

Asked September 23, 2015, 4:08 PM EDT

Since living in the forest of NW Montana I have researched this little bug several times. I always find that it is deemed "harmless", "does not bite or sting". Well, I beg to differ. I am wondering how I can get an entomologist to recognize that this critter is not, in fact, the happy little bug that you think it is! Last Saturday (9-19-15) a bug fell down the back of my shirt and by the time I got it out I knew that I had been "injected". I immediately had my husband apply triamcinalone to the welts that had arisen on my back. He said that I had 4 puncture sites. Sunday afternoon, I suddenly felt incredibly fatigued and had to get horizontal immediately! I spent the rest of the evening feeling like I had the flu coming on.(I found 2 references, on the internet, from people citing these kind of symptoms, following a bug entrapment.) I started feeling nauseous and feverish. I wound up calling out the ambulance as I was really beginning to feel as though I needed to go to the ER (one hour away). By the time they arrived I had vomited and felt marginally better and elected not to go to the hospital. After they left, however, I gradually became worse - vomiting every hour on the hour for most of the night. I went to the clinic in the morning, was given a liter of IV fluid, swabbed for the flu and sent home. I became worse, spiking a temperature to almost 102, vomited once more. The flu swab was negative. I gradually improved enough to keep a little food down and drink some fluids. Today, I awoke around 0330 to find that I was completely covered in a rash from neck to toe! Please don't try to tell me that it must have been something else that caused all this - I KNOW that it was this bug! I will add that I had a gall bladder removal 8 years ago, with complications. I spent 3 weeks in the hospital for what was a 'simple', same day, surgery. Since that time I have had all kinds of problems including "over the top" reactions to ordinary little mishaps! Like a bug bite! I would greatly appreciate your input regarding this matter. I will be happy to supply you with any other information that may be helpful.

Lincoln County Montana insect issues entomology

1 Response

I am sorry to hear of your recent experience and sincerely hope you are feeling better.

Is the picture provided the same insect retrieved from your Shirt? It is definitely a western conifer seed bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis) in the photo. The reason I ask is that, as you are undoubtedly aware, the available data on western conifer seed bugs (wcsb) all state that they do not bite. I can find no research-based information to contradict this statement. Having handled manywcsb over the years and having them also end up inside my clothing, I have no reason to doubt that claim.

Your experience, however, is quite the opposite. There are several possibilities presented by your question above.

Could it possibly have been some other insect inside your shirt? Proper and correct identification are important for any health care provider to begin understanding your symptoms and their cause.

Your previous health conditions may predispose you to any number of reactions, not necessarily caused by contact with this insect. The onset of your symptoms may have been caused by previous exposure to some irritant or agent. Your primary health care provider is the best one to determine this and any future treatment or protection.

Allergic reactions or side effects of the corticosteroid you applied to the initial site may also have contributed to your medical issue. Once again, a health provider is better suited to determining your whole health treatment and potential effects. Consulting with a dermatologist may help with the rash symptoms that you reported.

While I realize this may not be the most immediate assistance you requested, your case is, in fact, extremely complicated and outside the realm of our abilities to answer. While we can provide information to assist with diagnosing a problem; to say beyond a shadow of a doubt that the causal agent is the wcsb, is not possible based on the currently available information.

In the future, if you find an insect of concern, please place it in a leak-proof container and either freeze it or preserve it in rubbing alcohol. Bring the sample to your local county Extension office or send it to the Schutter Diagnostic Lab at 119 Plant BioScience Bldg, PO Box 173150, Bozeman, MT 59717-3150.

I hope this information proves useful to you and I wish you the best of luck with your dilemma.