Kudzu Bugs Continue To Spread

March of new threat unabated in spite of effective insecticides.

Published on: Mar 27, 2013

Kudzu bugs are continuing to develop as a threat in the Carolina-Virginia area. New to this part of the world, it is speculated the bugs probably hitched a ride with a passenger on an airliner from Southeast Asia into Atlanta, since that is near the place they were first found in the U.S. back in 2009. All the bugs discovered in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S. have been identified as genetically related, so they are believed to have come from a single female bug.

N.C. State University entomologist Jack Bacheler notes Georgia growers planted 175,000 acres of soybeans last year.  "We plant about 1,500,000 acres of soybeans in North Carolina," Bacheler says. "So we are hoping we can dilute out the kudzu bugs a little bit in North Carolina. We are not sure that is the case, so if you head south, over to Hoke, Robeson, Scotland counties, or go over to Shelby and Lincoln counties near Charlotte, the numbers were quite high in some fields. The highest number I heard of in North Carolina this past summer was about 700 kudzu bugs per 15 sweeps near the Sandhills (research) station. In Georgia and South Carolina, they've had as many as 2,800 bugs in 10 sweeps, so the numbers potentially can get really high."

SMALL BUGS HAVE BIG APPETITES FOR BEANS: Kudzu bugs are smaller than stink bugs but their feeding habits are similar to stink bugs in many ways. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Greene, Clemson University.
SMALL BUGS HAVE BIG APPETITES FOR BEANS: Kudzu bugs are smaller than stink bugs but their feeding habits are similar to stink bugs in many ways. Photo courtesy of Jeremy Greene, Clemson University.

The kudzu bug has been spreading like wildfire since 2009, so Bacheler is telling soybean growers to be on the lookout for them this year. When they hit a soybean field after overwintering they  come in very high numbers. However, Bacheler tells growers they need to be patient and hold off treating the first wave of adults. Wait, instead, he says, for the nymphs to hatch.

"What I try to convince growers to do is wait and not respond to the adults," Bacheler explains. "You'll see a bunch of those. You want the adults to lay egg masses, you want the nymphs to hatch, then if you need to, treat them. And a lot of growers in the southern part of the state did have enough of them to treat."

The good news is that although kudzu bugs often swarm into fields in large numbers, there are a number of chemical insecticides that do a really good job handling them.

Bacheler says the top insecticide performers between 2010 and 2012 have been Brigade, Discipline, Sniper, Fanfare, and SkyRaider. Mustang Max, Triple Crown Brigadier, Hero, Endigo, Karate Z, Warrior, Orthene 97, Acephate 97, Stallion and Besiege have also offered kudzu bug control nearly as good.

Make sure to check out the May issue of Carolina-Virginia Farmer magazine for more tips on kudzu bug control.