Seminole Crop E News

Agricultural News for Farmers and Agribusiness in SW Georgia

Seeing more and more Kudzu Bugs

Posted by romeethredge on May 30, 2013

Kudzu Bugs Are Here

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Kudzu was introduced to the U.S. on America’s Centennial birthday.  During the Great Depression, the Soil Conservation Service promoted Kudzu as a form of erosion control and we are now fighting seven million acres of Kudzu in the Deep South.  If the Kudzu plant is not bad enough, what about the Kudzu bug?

The Kudzu Bug, Megacopta cribraria, is an exotic pest that was first detected in the US during the fall of 2009 in nine northeast Georgia counties.  Last year, the Kudzu bug was discovered in many southwest Georgia counties, including Seminole.  It is classified in the same family of insects as the stink bug, with piercing/sucking mouthparts used to suck juices from plants.  According to UGA Entomologist Dr. Phillip Roberts, “Kudzu bugs maybe observed on many plant hosts, but the primary reproductive hosts are kudzu, wisteria, and soybeans.”  Notably, our first concern is the impact on commercial crops, such as soybeans.  However, kudzu bugs may prove to be a nuisance pest also. My question was, “Will they help us control Kudzu?” And they will help curb its growth. One test showed a 33% decrease in Kudzu vine growth with these critters feeding on it. So, you could say that it’s a beneficial insect in some cases?

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Kudzu bug adults are oval shaped, small, about ¼ inch diameter, and greenish brown in color. Depending on temperature, it takes 6-8 weeks for a kudzu bug to go from an egg to an adult.  Current research has found that there are two generations of kudzu bugs. Much of the kudzu bug populations develop on kudzu for their first generation and move to soybeans or bean related crops to complete its second generation.  I saw one soybean field with Kudzu bug problems last year , they don’t affect soybeans as badly as stinkbugs do, thank goodness. They can be checked for in soybeans with a sweepnet. The threshold is one immature or nymph per sweep. In other words we let the population get to the point of reproducing a new generation before control is really necessary.

Kudzu bugUGA Photo by Russ Ottens

I’ve had a few calls recently about Kudzu bugs accumulating on fences or in trees, we had some in a citrus tree near Iron City recently. They really don’t cause injury to anything but plants in the legume family.

During the fall and winter, large numbers of kudzu bugs move to sheltered areas to overwinter, such as leaf litter and tree crevices.

So, what about cracks and crevices around the home?  We have had calls concerning kudzu bugs settling around window trim, doorframes, gutters, etc.  Interestingly, research has also found they prefer these light colors around the homes.  They are doing nothing but looking for an overwintering site.

With these kudzu bug invasions, what control options do we have around the house?  There are two control options:  non-chemical and chemical.

Non-chemical

The best start is to remove their habitat.  This requires cutting back kudzu patches or wisteria before the fall.  However, kudzu patches extremely thick may not be feasibly controlled itself.  Even if habitat removal is successful, the kudzu bugs are good fliers and may move to your house.

The next option is to seal cracks and crevices on structures and screen openings around window, doors, and vents.  If the kudzu bugs get inside, it is suggested to use shop vacuums rather than conventional vacuums.  A shop vacuum with soapy water (2 tablespoons of dish soap per gallon of water) in the canister will kill the bugs.  The kudzu bug odor may linger in conventional vacuums.  Discard the soapy water and bags if you use a regular vacuum.

Chemical

Most insecticides available to homeowners are effective in killing kudzu bugs.  Make sure the product is labeled for the vegetation you spray and also labeled for structural use if spraying around your home.  Directly spray bugs or treat the surfaces around the house kudzu bugs are likely to land.  It is recommended to limit your spray to small-targeted areas.

Remember, kudzu bugs are good fliers.  Flying insects are difficult to manage with chemical control.  Follow the label direction on all chemical use.  If control measures remain complicated and kudzu bug numbers are high, consider using a pest management professional.  With the kudzu bug, there is no quick-fix, single spray option that will solve the problem.  Ultimately, the elimination of the kudzu bug will require habitat or source reduction.

Information from this article was taken from an article by Andrew Sawyer, Thomas County Agent and  “Kudzu Bug Management” and “Kudzu Bugs Around the Home.”

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One Response to “Seeing more and more Kudzu Bugs”

  1. […] Here’s a link back to a comprehensive Kudzu bug post I made a while back. https://seminolecropnews.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/seeing-more-and-more-kudzu-bugs/ […]

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