Elm Seed Bug

Elm Seed Bug

Questions and Answers: The Elm Seed Bug ( Arocatus melanocephalus)

Click here to see a photo of this insect.


When was the elm seed bug first detected in the United States?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed the first detection of this new invasive pest on July 12, 2012.


Where was this insect first detected?

The first detection occurred in western Idaho.


Where is the elm seed bug's native habitat?

This pest is native to central southern Europe.


What damage does it cause?

The elm seed bug feeds on elm fruits and seeds.


What is the elm seed bug's life cycle?

The adults mate in spring, and the females lay their eggs on elm trees. Worm-like larvae hatch from the eggs, feed on the tree's fruits and seeds, and become adults in summer. The adults can survive the winter to mate in the following spring.


Is this insect an agricultural pest?

This insect is not considered an agricultural pest because it is not expected to seriously damage elms or significantly impact the environment. However, it is considered a homeowner nuisance pest.


How does the elm seed bug affect homeowners?

The bug reproduces rapidly, resulting in large populations. When the weather becomes adverse, elm seed bugs can invade homes in large numbers to seek protection. In addition, the pest has a scent gland that emits a foul odor when the bug is crushed.


How did this invasive pest get into the United States?

USDA has not yet determined how it entered the United States. Invasive pests typically enter the country in commercial shipments from overseas. However, insects that invade homes in large numbers often hitchhike into the country in the baggage of international travelers.


What should I do if I believe this insect is on my property or in my neighborhood?

You should contact your state department of agriculture to report it. You can find your State's contact information on the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture's Web site at http://www.nasda.org/cms/7195/8617.aspx.


What is the USDA's response to the elm seed bug?

The New Pest Advisory Group of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection is currently reviewing this pest. The group has two primary functions:

1. To conduct a review of the scientific literature on the pest and assess the possible impacts or damage it could cause.

2. Make recommendations to the Agency's management regarding the pest and develop, in coordination with our State partners and stakeholders, best management practices for the pest.

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