Kudzu bugs smelly nuisance to homeowners

December 4, 2013 

“What’s this green bug that is about the size of a ladybug and stinks to the high heavens?”

This is the question that has been popping up for a few years now. The answer is none other than the kudzu bug, megacopta cribraria. Kudzu bugs have an olive green to brown body and are part of the stink bug family. They have a distinct odor that has been compared to a natural gas leak. The kudzu bug originated in Asia and was first detected in North Georgia in 2009 feeding in kudzu. Sounds great right? A bug that actually feeds on the invasive kudzu? Well yes, but we soon found out that they have a taste for other crops as well.

The kudzu bug is causing numerous problems in Georgia. It is a nuisance pest to people, a concern for home gardeners, an economic pest of soybeans, and has caused interruption of international trade with our exports to Latin America. They are attracted to light colored surfaces such as white siding, white cars, etc.

Kudzu bugs overwinter as adults, preferably in warm areas such as your home, and emerge in the spring in full force in search for their reproductive hosts, such as kudzu and soybeans. During this search they will feed on a wide variety of plants, but no significant damage to these plants has been shown. You may find these bugs clinging onto the new growth of plants by the masses. They have piercing and sucking mouth parts that they use to feed on new growth. They feed on the main stem of soybeans, which adds stress to the plant. Research has concluded that soybean fields that are left untreated can result in a 20 percent yield loss. Soybean plants that kudzu bugs have been feeding on contain fewer pods and few seeds in each pod.

Pyrethroid insecticides, active ingredients ending in “thrin,” can be purchased commercially and over the counter in most any home and garden store.

Pryethroids offer good control over kudzu bugs, but make sure and read the label to ensure that the chemical is registered for the crop that it is being applied to. Since University of Georgia experts discourage the use of insecticides indoors, the best way to remove kudzu bugs in your house is to vacuum them up and dump the bag/container outside. This will keep their foul odor out of your house. Do not crush them. Crushing them will release a foul odor that is hard to eliminate, and they can stain the surface of furniture. If you have any questions regarding the kudzu bug please give me a call.

Source: UGA Publications

For more information on any program area, contact Houston County Extension at 478-987-2028 or drop by our office in the old courthouse, downtown Perry, 801 Main St. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visit our website at www.caes.uga.edu/extension/houston for more news about your local Extension office.

Dates to remember/news:

Houston County 4-H is collecting canned goods for Pack the Pantry. Donations can be dropped off at the extension office. The club is also collecting soda cans for the Ronald McDonald House.

Dec. 4: Deadline to sign up for Houston County 4-H Horse Quiz Bowl Team

Dec. 17: Deadline for Registration for Garden Academy

Dec. 25-Jan. 1: Extension Office Closed for Christmas Holidays

Jan. 6-8: Beltwide Cotton Conference New Orleans

Jan.16: Georgia Peanut Farm Show, Tifton

Jan. 24: Georgia Ag Forecast, Macon

Charlotte Mote is the Houston County agricultural and natural resources agent. Contact her at 478-987-2028 or cmote1@uga.edu.

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