Utah has an unwelcome visitor from Europe.

The red fire bug, a relative of the box elder species, has found a home in eastern Salt Lake neighborhoods. And a Utah State University insect expert says fire bugs will likely spread out over the state.

Fire bugs are slightly smaller than box elder bugs and have bright red wings with black markings.

"I feel like anywhere box elder bugs can live, they have a good chance of surviving," said Erin Hodgson, an entomologist with USU's extension service.

Though the bugs are native to central Europe, they're also found in parts of Siberia, Mongolia, India and China.

It's unclear how the bugs got here. Hodgson said they may have hitchhiked on some imported plants.

In recent months, the bug has been spotted in the Sugar House and Cottonwood Heights neighborhoods.

No one knows yet what plants the bugs will prefer in Utah. In Europe, they like mallow, linden and limes, according to Hodgson.

She doubts the newcomers will out-compete box elder bugs because the two species have differing tastes and there's plenty of food to go around.

The bug will probably find its share of enemies. It's commonly gobbled up by mites, birds, mammals, amphibians and ants in Europe, according to Hodgson.