Arrived in 2010
Kudzu bugs infesting Coweta households
by Staff Reports
The Coweta County Extension Service is getting numerous calls this spring about kudzu bugs.
Unfortunately, kudzu bugs are here to stay, says Stephanie R. Butcher, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service coordinator for Coweta County and agriculture and natural resources agent. If you haven’t seen a kudzu bug yet, it’s safe to say you probably will, she said.
The kudzu bug arrived in Georgia in 2009 and has continued to make its way across the state. They arrived in Coweta County in 2010 and are here to stay.
University of Georgia genetic entomologist Tracie Jenkins has traced the kudzu bug back to its home country of Japan where scientists believe it caught a ride on a passenger jet and ended up in Georgia.
Control methods are still being researched and developed, but it is important for homeowners to understand that there are two times of the year when kudzu bugs are at their worst. The first peak of activity occurs in the early spring. When these pesky critters emerge from winter inactivity, they can be found hanging out on any light-colored surface while they wait for their host plant to sprout.
What is their host plant, you ask?
You guessed it. Kudzu.
Although these insects will feast on soybeans, red buds and other legumes, kudzu is their plant of choice, Butcher said.
As spring progresses and kudzu continues to grow, the bugs become less troublesome for the homeowner, and fewer and fewer numbers will be sighted on vehicles and in landscapes. However, the kudzu bug is not gone for good; it’s feeding and reproducing in kudzu, and thus a new generation, or cycle, of the kudzu bug begins.
In June and July, adults produced in this new generation are thought to move over to soybean plants, and during these months, the kudzu bug may become a nuisance to soybean growers as well as home gardeners and organic farmers growing various types of beans. In fact, they have been shown to cause up to a 20 percent loss in soybean crops, creating quite an economic impact for farmers.
The second peak of nuisance activity occurs in the fall. Based on what is known about other insects, a combination of day length, change in kudzu physiology, dying host plants, and declining temperatures is thought to be responsible for the second peak of nuisance activity occurring in the fall. In recent years, the kudzu bugs’ migration from host plants to overwintering sites has begun in mid-October and persisted until late November or early December.
Homeowners can take steps to keep kudzu bugs away from their homes by taking the following steps in late summer:
Place screening over possible routes of insect entry into the house.
Check to make sure screens on windows are well-seated and without holes.
Check to make sure soffit, ridge, and gable vents are properly screened.
Stuff steel wool into openings where screening cannot be used, such as around pipe penetrations.
Make sure doors establish a tight seal when closed.
In the event that kudzu bugs find their way into the home, they should not be crushed; there is a reason kudzu bugs are considered “stink” bugs. They have a strong odor when crushed and can also leave stains.
Instead, vacuum the bugs and once bagged, place in hot, soapy water.
Avoid using a vacuum that will push them through the motor since they can produce foul smells, the resulting “bug goo” can leave stains. In some cases, people may have an allergic reaction if they come in contact with the ground bug parts. A stocking or pantyhose placed in the vacuum tube and secured to the end of the tube with a rubber band can help by catching the insects before they reach the motor of the vacuum.
Homeowners who want to remove kudzu bugs from the exterior of the home can apply an insecticide spray labeled for outdoor nuisance insect control. Re-application(s) may be necessary. To reduce the frequency of re-application, long-lasting formulations such as microencapsulated and wettable powder products should be used if possible. When using insecticide-based products, always read and follow the directions for use on the product label. Indoor insecticide use is not recommended; however, a pyrethroid insecticide (sold under a variety of trade names) can be used to directly spray bugs landing on the outside of homes.
For more information regarding kudzu bugs, contact the Coweta County Extension Office on Pine Road at 770-254-2620, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ugaextension.com/coweta .