Friday, April 3, 2015

Kudzu Bugs; Urban and Agricultural Pest

Oh, kudzu bug (Megacopta cribraria), you truly are a pest.  Not only does it smell, being part of the stinkbug family after all, but it also is an urban pest and an agricultural pest.  It was discovered in the U. S. in October 2009 in Georgia and has since spread throughout the southeast.

Map from BugwoodWiki Megacopta cribraria

So, how could these be a urban issue as well as an agricultural one?  Kuzdu bugs are attracted to light-colored surfaces, most notably house siding, white cars and white clothing.

kudzu bug (Megacopta cribraria) by Matthew Gibson,
When the bugs were first found, no alarm bells went off.  They eat kudzu, we have plenty of that!  Well, soon after, they were found on other legume plants.  In 2014, 84.6 million acres of soybeans were planted in the U. S. and value of production was $40,288,536,000 (USDA-NASS Crop Values
2014 Summary).  That's a lot of food for hungry kudzu bugs.

kudzu bug (Megacopta cribraria) by Jeremy Greene, Clemson University,
So, why are we talking about kudzu bugs now?  The adults are waking up from overwintering, crawling out of their sheltered cracks and crevices.  Soon you will see them on houses and other structures warming up for the season.  During the summer, they will move to kudzu and other legume plants to reproduce.  In certain areas of Georgia they have been observed to have a second generation.  While they only feed and reproduce on legumes, they will land on other plants, not a fun situation for gardeners.

If you find kudzu bugs, report them!  Use EDDMapS or the SEEDN app to report your find, and don't forget to include a picture of what you found.

Keep an eye out for them and remember, don't squish them, they're STINKBUGS!

For more on the appearance of Kudzu bugs this year: Room to Grow: Kudzu bugs making their spring appearance
BugwoodWiki article: Megacopta cribraria
Images: kudzu bug
Current Distribution Map