Pine seed bug resembles slender stink bug

Docile insects may overwinter indoors but won't breed

  • Hydrangea 'Annabelle.' Stunning winter interest can be achieved by juxtaposing dry hydrangea flowers against a dark background.
Hydrangea 'Annabelle.' Stunning winter interest… (Ginny Williams, Baltimore…)
December 28, 2013|By Ellen Nibali, For The Baltimore Sun

Some very slow-moving gray bugs I call "skinny" stink bugs (not aggressive or biting) are getting inside from the floor or fireplace. Are they breeding in walls? My kids are scared of bugs, and I would love a safe solution.

These docile insects may provide you with a good teachable moment for bug-shy kids. The leaf-footed pine seed bug looks similar to a slender stink bug but their interesting back legs resemble pointed oak leaves. They feed harmlessly on pine seeds and buds. They may enter homes looking for areas to overwinter — not breed — when weather turns cold but slowly die indoors. There is no control other than sealing windows and doors, caulking cracks and crevices, and applying weatherstripping. They may overwinter in plant debris or thick organic mulch, so remove these near your house walls.

My grandson got a grow light as a gift. What would be good for him to grow and eat this winter?

Many lettuce varieties or leafy greens in the cabbage family, such as arugula or kale, can provide quick satisfaction. For tips on how and when to harvest, look at the Salad Table information in our website's Grow It Eat It section: As spring approaches, he can start transplants to move into a garden later. Remember to keep the grow light only 1-2 inches from the plants.

University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at

Plant of the week


Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'

Stunning winter interest can be achieved by juxtaposing dry hydrangea flowers against a dark background. Annabelle, a cultivar of our native hydrangea arborescens, is particularly effective, with extremely large flower heads up to a foot across on strong erect stems. Blooms start in late spring and continue into fall. Annabelle grows rapidly to 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide and can cover large areas. It can be pruned back to about 6 inches in late winter to early spring to reduce expansion without sacrificing blooms. Plant it near a water source and in some shade since it will wilt when the weather is hot and dry. It prefers well drained soil, high in organic material. —Ginny Williams

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