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One Invasive Species Preying on Another

A little less than a year ago, an insect known as the “kudzu bug” was spotted in northeast Georgia. Scientists have been studying it but still don’t have enough information about it to know how—or whether—to control it.

Bean plataspid or kudzu bug

According to a University of Georgia press release published September 16, 2010, scientists in UGA’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences are trying to identify the insect’s habits—besides its love of kudzu. Besides Georgia, the insect is in the Carolina’s and may arrive in Alabama and Tennessee soon.

UGA entomologist Dan Suiter is unsure of how the insect arrived, but he knows that its favorite foods are kudzu and soybeans. The insect is native to India and China. It is formally named “bean plataspid” (Megacopta cribraria) and is pea-sized and brown with a broad posterior.

Entomologists in Georgia believe that the pest will begin invading residences when the weather turns cooler and kudzu dies off. According to UGA entomologist Wayne Gardner, the kudzu bug prefers the sides of light-colored homes and vehicles and are most active in the afternoon when it’s warm. Because it’s an invasive species, it has no known natural enemies here.

Although scientists are pleased that the insect is feeding on kudzu, they are concerned because it is also feeding on economic crops, such as soybeans and it emits an unpleasant odor. Entomologists are currently studying the pest’s impact on agriculture and are trying to determine whether or not it’s cost-effective to treat the pest. The bug feeds on stems, sap, leaves and petioles but does not seem to feed on the developing pods. In India and China, growers manually remove the insects to control them.

Scientists are unsure about the pest’s long-term effect on kudzu. But if people start seeing buildings that disappeared years ago, this new invasive pest might be one of the few that are welcome.

3 Responses

  1. I do agree with your information above are correct. It is my first time in 30 years I have seen this big problem with the “Kudzu bug” in Norcross . I have used all types of chemical nothing help. Something needs to be done urgently.

    • Amen! I’m in Norcross too and they are EVERYWHERE. They do seem to be immune to the one broad-spectrum pesticide I’ve tried on them so far. Does anyone know if they damage plants besides kudzu? They seem to have taken up residence on in my beans.

  2. They reportedly love soybeans. This bug was first reported in NC last year. Last fall, we found a few in a soybean field. Yesterday, I found hundreds on an industrial site with no kudzu or any legumes in sight. They seem to do well in the south, considering there are so many in sight now.

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