Kudzu Bugs New Pest for Area

In 2009, an Asian immigrant- the kudzu bug was found in nine counties in Georgia. Since then it has spread steadily throughout the Southeast. Last week it was found in Marengo County. Right now you might be saying-“ Hmm. Eats kudzu. This is a good thing. Right?”

Unfortunately, kudzu is not the only thing it eats. This is where the problem comes in. The kudzu bug, also called the bean bug, lablab bug or globular stink bug, primarily is a legume eater. In its native countries it is the main pest of soybean and leguminous vegetables but also feeds on a variety of agricultural crops and non legume horticultural fruit trees such as figs. In Alabama it feeds on soybeans, a major Alabama crop. Even though there are pesticides available to kill it, this increases the cost for our farmers.

The kudzu bug is not a beetle. It is a nuisance stink bug that secretes a foul odor that can stain wall coverings, fabrics, and even skin. The bugs are olive green/brownish in color, with a squared back end, and are about the size of an Asian lady beetle.

(Photo from American-Lawns.com)

(Photo from American-Lawns.com)

They like to congregate on light colored surfaces- umbrellas, exterior house walls, and even light colored vehicles. looking for a place to overwinter. They are excellent hitchhikers and can fly long distances.

The problem for most of us will come in the fall. They are like the Asian lady beetle and will come indoors to overwinter. They are extremely prolific.

What can homeowners do to prevent an invasion? The best thing is to take measures in late summer before they start seeking places to overwinter. Exclusion is the best answer. Seal and caulk very well, particularly around windows, doors, and areas where pipes enter the house. Make sure sweeps on the bottoms of doors are tight.

But even with the most stringent of measures, these bugs may get into your home. Pyrethroid insecticides applied directly to the bugs on the outside of your home can kill them. Be sure to read and follow label directions. It is the law.

One problem is that all of the bugs do not come in at the same time. Treating with insecticides is not recommended because of the bug’s mobility and the multitudes of bugs. The bugs don’t migrate directly into living areas but instead fill gaps in the walls and slowly move into the living area. Getting an insecticide to them is all but impossible.

Avoid crushing the insects that do enter your home. Vacuum up the insects and then place the vacuum bag into a trash bag and freeze the bag for several days. You can also drop the bugs into soapy water to kill them. Another option is to use a wet-dry vacuum with 1 to 2 tablespoons of dish soap per gallon of water. The dish liquid and water will kill any bugs you vacuum up. Immediately empty the vacuum when done.