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Every year during the late summer and early fall seasons, Franklin, Massachusetts resident, Kristine Raymond Carter, thoroughly inspects every room in her home for insect pests that are commonly known as western conifer seed bugs. The WCSB is often confused with another invasive insect pest known as the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), which is an understandable mistake considering that both of these invasive insect pests are true bugs that swarm into homes during the fall in order to secure warm shelter for the winter. These two pests also emit a foul odor when they are distrubed or crushed, and both congregate in hard-to-access areas within a home, such as wall-voids, attic spaces, and beneath baseboards. Boxelder bugs, and Asian lady beetles are two other smelly true bug pests that swarm into homes during the fall in order to overwinter in homes, and while all these seasonal household pests pose a tremendous nuisance to homeowners, experts claim that they are medically harmless. However, recent medical case reports and research studies have confirmed that WCSBs can, in fact, inflict potentially dangerous bites to humans.

The WCSB possess needle-like mouthparts that allow them to feed on the internal fluids in plants and seeds. Virtually all experts sources state that these bugs do not bite humans, but one case report describes a situation involving a woman who felt immediate pain upon sustaining a bite from a WCSB. The pain was described as “excruciating,” and it caused a quarter-sized lesion to develop on her arm that took weeks to heal. The woman’s symptoms eventually subsided, but this is not the only case of a WCSB biting a human. A few years ago, a WCSB fell down a woman’s shirt where it proceeded to bite her on the back. This woman’s initial symptoms were similar to the other bite victim’s symptoms, but within two days, the woman developed serious flu-like symptoms, but she too, eventually recovered. Since these two cases were described, several other similar reports have surfaced, and public health professionals and entomologists are now trying to determine the WCSB’s potential as a pest of medical significance.

Have you ever sustained a bite from a bug that entered your home within a swarm?