Carolina-Virginia growers have their eyes wide open this year after learning of a new pest that has the potential for causing significant economic losses in soybean fields. Since being discovered in the U.S. in Georgia in 2009, the kudzu bug (also known as the bean plataspid) has made some amazing progress spreading across most of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina and in parts of Virginia, Florida Alabama and Tennessee. Fortunately, growers have some helpful resources at hand, including Syngenta's Pest Patrol hotline.
Don't let the name of this pest mislead you. As its name suggests, the kudzu bug does feed on kudzu, but it also loves soybeans. The first generation of kudzu bugs moves from kudzu to soybeans in early summer. A second generation is expected to migrate in late July and early August. The pest feeds on soybeans by sucking nutrients and moisture from the leaves.
"Kudzu bugs definitely have the potential to cause major yield loss because they have no established biotic control organisms yet in the U.S.," says Roy Boykin, entomologist and technical asset lead, Syngenta. "Kudzu bugs are colonizing soybeans much earlier this year than in past years, so this season's early planting may actually prove to be a challenge for growers trying to protect their fields from damage."
Among other tools, Syngenta's Pest Patrol lets growers tap into university pest experts in their area via digitally taped weekly radio reports. In the Carolina-Virginia region these experts include Virginia Tech entomologist Ames Herbert, N.C. State University entomologist Jack Bacheler and Clemson entomologist Jeremy Greene.
The program reports on all kinds of insect pests, for virtually all commercial crops. However, with the abrupt onset of kudzu bugs control advice, and possibly even recommendations, are apt to be fluid, as the scientists learn more about the pest's habits and movements.
Pest Patrol offers season long alerts and treatment recommendations, Syngenta notes, including information on kudzu bug patterns. Resources include a toll-free hotline at 877-285-8525, text alerts and the website at www.SyngentaPestPatrol.com.
Growers can also follow Syngenta on Twitter or Facebook.