Home Grown


Tips and resources for farmers and gardeners




Keeping Out the Kudzu Bugs

Megacopta cribraria, also known as the kudzu bug, prepares for winter by moving from its preferred host, kudzu (aka the "plant that ate the South"), to protected sites where it will spend the winter. The adult bugs are attracted to light-colored surfaces, frequently migrating into houses and other structures.
 




Adult kudzu bugs will emerge in the spring, lay eggs on sprouting kudzu and begin building large populations. In addition to dining on kudzu, the insect also feeds on soybeans and other legumes, including beans in home gardens.

Researchers have been searching for ways to control the insect, recently introduced from Asia. Until a control is found, the following tips are offered to homeowners who want to keep the pest at bay:

• Seal, with caulk or screen, all cracks around windows and doors. Make sure there are no gaps under doors and around soffits. Install doorsweeps on all outside doors if necessary.





• Do not kill kudzu bugs indoors. Use a vacuum to remove them. This will prevent the noxious odor/exudate they expel from penetrating and, perhaps, staining indoor surfaces.

• In late fall, kudzu bugs are most active in the afternoon as temperatures warm up later in the day. Plan outdoor activities in the morning, if possible, or move activities indoors.

• Kudzu bugs can be killed with pyrethroid insecticides applied directly to the insects, e.g., while resting on outside walls. When using an insecticide, read and follow the product's label (it's the law). Never use a pyrethroid insecticide in an area where it might contaminate water. These insecticides are very toxic to fish and other aquatic life. Alternatively, homeowners can contact a local pest management company and have them inspect and evaluate the situation.

• To date, no traps have been commercialized or shown to be effective in attracting and killing large numbers of kudzu bugs. And, scientifically valid chemical attractants have not yet been identified.

• Removing kudzu from your property may help reduce the nuisance of these pests, but they are known to fly long distances and may emerge from other kudzu growing in the vicinity.




Source: Wayne Gardner, entomologist, University of Georgia

 

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