Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Kudzu Bugs on the Move Again

Kudzu bugs aggregating on structure searching for 
overwintering sites (Photo:  Dan Suiter, Univ. of Georgia)
Kudzu bugs will soon be moving out of soybean fields, which means you may begin seeing them aggregating on or inside structures, including homes and schools. The kudzu bug's fall movementindoors is very similar to what we've experienced since the 1990’s with the Asian lady beetle. The major difference between the two insects is that the Asian lady beetle is actually beneficial as a biological control agent because it feeds on aphids and other plant-feeding insects. By contrast, the kudzu bug's primary food source (aside from kudzu) happens to be field crops, such as soybeans, where they can significantly impact yield. The kudzu bugs fondness for soybeans is one reason why we could see significant numbers of them invading homes and other buildings, even in rural areas. In more urban areas, there are plenty of other hosts, such as wisteria and privet. The insects are quite mobile; they are able to catch rides on wind currents, as well as automobiles, trucks, trains, and planes. This helps explain why this pest has managed to spread in about 4 years from the north-central Georgia to most of South Carolina, North Carolina, and on into Virginia (plus west into Mississippi).

At this point, we still do not have anything new to report in terms of recommendations as to how to address this problem. Kudzu bugs are attracted to light-colored surfaces but that certainly doesn't mean that brick buildings or those with dark-colored siding will escape the bug invasion. While shortcuts and easy solutions would be nice, there simply aren't any.

The emphasis still has to be on exclusion because chemical control is only partially effective and relies primarily on targeting the insects that are aggregating on surfaces. Preventive sprays are not recommended because they simply won't be durable enough to last the weeks during which these insects will be actively seeking overwintering sites. If you feel a treatment is required, stick with targeted treatments of critical areas: windows and doorframes, soffits, and eaves. If you choose to treat using a pyrethroid insecticide, remember to follow new label requirements. For the latest label changes, visit:  http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/reevaluation/environmental-hazard-statment.html.

For more information about the kudzu bug, please visit our website:  http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/kudzubug.htm
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