Species Elasmostethus interstinctus (Linnaeus)
E. interstinctus is 8-10mm long. The dorsal side is yellow-green with a variable amount of red, the ventral side is yellow, and the abdominal margins are yellow(Thomas, 1991). Preserved specimens may become tan.
The birch bug has a holarctic range, occurring from Alaska and Canada to Asia and Europe (Thomas, 1991).
In southern Finland and Sweden, Mappes et al. (1996) observed that E. interstinctus lays eggs on the upper side of leaves and on the catkins of Betula (Birch) from early June to the middle August and that the nymphs feed in aggregations on catkins until they reach adulthood. Adults overwinter in leaf litter, then mate in the following spring.
Barnes et al. (1996) studied the overwintering biology of E. interstinctus in Fairbanks, Alaska, from which the following is sumarized. Bugs adults survive harsh winter conditions by their selection of hybernacula and by supercooling. By spending the winter under the snow in the upper layers of leaf litter, Birch Bugs escape the coldest winter temperatures and avoid contact with ice crystals. The ability to supercool without freezing improves through the winter, with adults freezing, on average, at -9.5º C in fall to -16.9º C in spring. Freezing is lethal and contact with ice causes freezing at higher temperatures.
E. interstinctus feeds mostly on Betula in interior Alaska. It has also been recorded feeding on Juniperus (Juniper), Quercus (Oak), Ilex (Holly), and Vaccinium (Schaefer and Ahmad, 1987); Alnus (Alder), Fagus (Beech), and Populus (Aspen) (Thomas, 1991); and Oplopanax horridus (Devil's Club) on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska (personal observation). Birch bugs have been collected on Salix (Willow) (Scudder, 1997).
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